March against Cosatu a ‘turning point for SA’ – Zille

2012-05-17 14:25

The DA march against Cosatu’s blocking of the youth wage subsidy that turned violent earlier this week is a turning point in South Africa, party leader Helen Zille has said.

South Africans now know that the DA stood up for the unemployed and that Cosatu opposed their interests “even violently”, Zille said.

“What happened in the Joburg CBD on Tuesday will come to be seen as a turning point in South Africa,” Zille said.

“Every South African now knows that the DA stands up for the unemployed, and that Cosatu opposes their interests, even violently.”

Zille said the party would intensify its campaign for the subsidy.

“The DA is more resolute than ever to mobilise all South Africans for the immediate implementation of the youth wage subsidy, structured on the model proposed by the national Treasury, which is a model we support,” she said.

The march, led by Zille, youth leader Makashule Gana, parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko and national spokesperson Mmusi Maimane, began peacefully.

But when the protesters turned into Jorissen Street in Braamfontein they were met by toyi-toying Cosatu members moving down the street from Cosatu’s offices, opposite the Joburg Theatre.

Cosatu members allegedly threw rocks and pieces of cement at DA supporters.

Police used teargas and water cannons to disperse Cosatu members, who stopped the DA from protesting outside its headquarters.

Maimane laid charges of incitement of violence, intimidation and illegal gathering against Cosatu yesterday.

The treasury had budgeted R5 billion for the subsidy, but the money is “stagnating” in the budget, despite record levels of youth unemployment.

“The youth wage subsidy will benefit more than 423 000 people in the first three years of the programme,” Zille said.

“Beneficiaries will be young, first-time job seekers, many of whom have completed matric or have tertiary qualifications but who cannot find that crucial first job.”

The exponential knock-on effect of these 423 000 opportunities would literally benefit millions more people, she said.

The DA had been calling for a youth wage subsidy programme for ten years. It was now supported by business, government and Fedusa, South Africa’s second largest trade federation.

Zille said the programme had had resounding success elsewhere in the world.

Unemployment was literally halved in Singapore between 2003 and 2007 in part due to the implementation of a youth wage subsidy, while several middle-income countries have also adopted wage subsidy programmes including Korea, Mexico, the Slovak Republic, Chile and Turkey.

The subsidy will be paid over to complying businesses in the form of a tax credit and will be administered by the SA Revenue Service.

Employers who grow their labour force by employing people between the ages of 18 and 29 will be eligible to receive the wage subsidy.

Zille said she would write to the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) about the issue.

If a request for a meeting with Nedlac was unsuccessful she would seek a meeting with President Jacob Zuma.

The DA would also use “every parliamentary mechanism available” to pressure the government into fulfilling its promise to implement the subsidy.

“We repeat our call for Cosatu to drop its indefensible opposition to this job creation initiative that is sensible, proven and affordable,” Zille said.

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