Gear to blame for slow growth: Cosatu

Nelspruit - The Growth, Employment and Redistribution strategy was responsible for the country's slow and unstable economic growth, Congress of SA Trade Unions president Willy Madisha said on Monday.

Addressing delegates at the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union's fourth national congress in Mpumalanga, Madisha said that instead of attracting foreign investors as intended, the strategy had cost thousands of jobs.

"Far from seeing an influx of foreign capital in the past year, we have seen a nearly 90% drop in foreign investment and the total investment has fallen to 15% of the GDP, the lowest level since 1993, " he said.

Because of the strategy, the government was now spending substantially less than in 1996 and in the public sector alone job losses had increased by 4%, and 40% across the board.

Public sector unions played a major role in preventing further job losses, he said. Madisha said a further shift in government policy as a result of the strategy was privatisation on local, provincial and national level.

"The sale of shares in the paratastals, contracting the provision of local government and national infrastructure to the private sector, cutting government services so that those who can, turn to private providers, all of these are some of the forms of privatisation."

Madisha accused financial institutions of blackmailing the government with outflow of capital if the government did not bend to its will.

"This does not mean that foreign capital, governments and institutions do not help undermine our ability to transform our country. But often the threat is exaggerated.

"We need to be aware that we can act to counter this threat," he said.

Addressing the same delegates earlier, Popcru president Zizamele Cebekhulu called for the transformation of police, correctional services as well as the traffic department.

Cebekhulu said these services were still entrenched with programmes designed to advance the interests of the minority. "It stands to reason that we are the last bastion of racism and radical changes need to take place at an accelerated pace in order for our sector to be transformed," Cebekhulu said.

He called on the government to ratify international human rights instruments such as the Protocol to the African Charter On Human and People's Rights.

The union faced the task of ensuring the balance of resources between the previously advantaged areas and the advantaged as well as the skills development.

"We need to realise that in the not so distant past, our sector was in the forefront of operations to defend apartheid and the interests of the minority regime," he said. - Sapa

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