Youth wage subsidy back on ANC agenda

The youth wage subsidy may be back in play.

Yesterday, Minister in the Presidency Trevor Manuel was asked about the subsidy, which started out as an ANC idea.

It was adopted by the party but never implemented by government.

Manuel said: “On implementation, there will be two, three big speeches in the next few weeks: the January 8 statement, the State of the Nation (Address) and the Budget speech.”

Manuel declined his nomination to the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) earlier this week and said the reason included providing space for younger members in the party to

take more control, while he played a mentoring role.

He said this does not mean he’s leaving politics.

“I was politically active from my teenage years. I was a member of the NEC at 35. This isn’t retirement, it’s about understanding that political activity isn’t (only) about being on

the NEC.”

The planning minister said the ANC put a lot of trust in him when he was young, “and part of understanding transformation (and renewal) is to put trust in a younger cadre of people and (then) support them”.

If the ANC does decide to push through the subsidy, it will be seen as a significant move against its largest alliance partner, Cosatu, which has been vocal in its opposition to the plan.

The union federation believes the subsidy will threaten older, established workers as it will be cheaper for companies to employ the youth.

Another hot potato, which may be clarified this week, is labour broking.

Manuel also had strong views on the idea being mooted to prohibit public servants from being in business.

“The National Development Plan (NDP) speaks about it – that government officials should be prohibited from participating in some kind of economic activity. My personal view – I must stay with the plan officially – but my personal view is there should be no reason for a public servant to also have a business activity,” Manuel said.

According to him, the interpretation of the Constitution that says no one should be prohibited from participating in economic activity is wrong, because earning a living as a public servant is an economic activity.

“If you set the rules so that public servants and public representatives are not involved in business activities, then I think we’re actually providing a signal of change consistent with norms here and elsewhere,” Manuel added.

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