Cape Town – South Africa is an old hand when it comes to different social partners collaborating to reach solutions to problems, said President Cyril Ramaphosa.
The president was responding to questions from MPs on Wednesday afternoon. Ramaphosa spoke specifically to how the social compact, announced during his inaugural State of the Nation Address, would work for SA’s economic recovery.
“It is within our DNA as a nation to work together to resolve problems and tackle what many regard as intractable problems,” said Ramaphosa.
He recalled how South Africans came together to forge a way forward for the democracy at the end of apartheid. He also spoke on how government, business, labour and civil society worked together to lessen the negative impact of the global financial crisis in 2008. Similarly, in 2016, social partners came together in early 2016 to avert a downgrade. The national minimum wage agreement reached in 2017 is another example.
Magic of Nedlac
Ramaphosa sang the praises of the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac). “People outside our country want to know details of how Nedlac works. They see it as an institution which promotes social compacting, promotes dialogue, reaching agreement and solving problems,” he said.
“Many of us do not know many people around the world come to our country to find out how we are able to keep institutions like Nedlac sustainable and effective as it is.”
Ramaphosa said that Nedlac follows processes which are cooperative, informative, educative and most effective in reaching an agreement.
“If you really want to reach an agreement on a problem affecting the nation, go to Nedlac to find solutions… [Nedlac is] able to sit down and resolve problems. That is the magic of Nedlac.”
Ramaphosa said that South Africans should continue to use Nedlac as a platform and forum to resolve problems on a continuous basis.
Taking the route of a social compact would be following the lesson taught by the “father of the nation”, Nelson Mandela, Ramaphosa said. “He took the initiative of social compacting which led to the democracy we enjoy today,” he said.
Ramaphosa called for all social partners to unite behind the programme of economic recovery.
South Africa can take a leaf from other economies such as South Korea, Sweden, Netherlands and Ireland which also forged social compacts to drive economic growth.
Ramaphosa said that government has played its role in providing policy certainty and consistency and has reaffirmed its commitment to strengthen the capabilities of the state and to end corruption. “[Government] is working to create an enabling environment for business to invest, thrive, create jobs and reduce inequality in economy,” he said.
In turn businesses should invest more, create jobs, and implement measures to reduce income inequality, improve working conditions of labourers and invest in skills and the development of innovation.
Labour needs to work with employers to strengthen collective bargaining and to reduce labour instability, and support measures to improve productivity.
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