The president set a goal in February to finalize a social compact to solve a variety of social ills. But have we not reached a consensus on what needs to be done some time ago? freget Busisiwe Mavuso.
I was a little surprised when, in his State of the Nation Address on February 10, President Cyril Ramaphosa set a 100-day goal “to finalize what I call a comprehensive social compact to grow our economy, create jobs, and fight hunger.” . He wanted to “reach a new consensus to deal with poverty, unemployment and inequality”.
I think we have already reached consensus on how to tackle these critical issues. Following the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, social partners at Nedlac presented a coordinated, holistic strategy that was incorporated into Ramaphosa’s Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan (ERRP) and adopted by the Cabinet.
I’m afraid that a ‘new social compact’ with a new set of commitments will only serve to divert attention from the key reforms and R1 trillion infrastructure program introduced in the ERRP. While there has been good progress in some areas, many areas of reform are being unduly disturbed by bureaucratic processes, while some blockades are political. The outflow of infrastructure is also terribly slow.
Talks on a new social compact are scheduled to begin at Nedlac on April 7. BLSA has not received any communication from the government on what this is about, but I imagine that every social partner at Nedlac is asked to do what they can to achieve our goals.
In this context, I look forward to the discussions between social partners to see if we can agree on further measures that will stimulate our existing efforts to build an inclusive, growing economy. Because of course there is so much more we can do, but it requires the commitment of every social partner.
Some key areas that are severely damaging to our economic growth prospects never seem to be on the agenda for discussion.
The first is education, arguably the most important in terms of guaranteeing an inclusive economy in the long run. Without improving the poor quality of our education system, we can give up all hope of tackling economic inequality in this country.
Unfortunately, our students consistently rank among the worst in the world for math, science, and literature. Last year, nearly 900,000 students passed the NSC matriculation examinations of state schools with an official pass rate of 76.4% (excluding the drop-out rate), but the “pass mark” has been effectively reduced to 35% from 50% previously, although students can pass even with 30% in two subjects if scores are above 40% in four others. Only one-third earned a bachelor’s degree.
Imagine how transformation in the workplace would be accelerated if every student had received a quality basic education that taught them to think creatively and innovate, while opening up opportunities to pursue a career in a variety of fields. Instead, for the most part, they are poorly equipped for all jobs, but the worst, and they will struggle to find work, even in those.
They are condemned to a life of financial difficulties because of their sub-standard education, which in turn increases the chance that their children will follow the same path. Like the matriculants of next year, and those over 10 or 20 years.
Until the education crisis is effectively resolved, inequality will remain established.
Another area that needs to be addressed is labor market reform. Given our history, it is understandable how our labor laws have evolved into one of the most rigid worldwide since we achieved democracy. The contribution of the labor movement to the struggle was massive, especially in securing workers’ rights. But the political alliance between Cosatu and the ANC forged in those times has resulted in a situation where government has been unable to be objective in this sphere and the labor rigidity has become too crippling for companies, especially in these times of economic need.
As I have stated several times, we are long past an unemployment crisis, this is a need. There are many labor restrictions that can be loosened or adjusted without affecting the core rights of workers, but I will highlight just one: make it easier for companies to hire and fire.
The smaller the business, the more important it is to get the right person for the job. Getting it wrong is costly, both financially and in terms of lost productivity – the person is not doing the work you pay for. Given that risk, the rational decision for many business managers is not to hire. Unfortunately, people who have never been exposed to any kind of business do not realize how important this problem is.
There are many other areas that need to be addressed that would significantly improve Ramaphosa’s intention to deal with poverty, unemployment and inequality, but space leaves me with another problem: I do not believe that enough done to proclaim corruption.
There are still too many people at all levels of government involved by the Zondo Commission, the Special Investigating Unit or anywhere else. And recently, the ANC’s Mpumalanga conference elected a person dealing with murder charges as treasurer general before asking him to step down. How is a person dealing with such charges nominated in the first place and then elected?
While this person has agreed to step on the side, many others dig in, clearly showing that the principle behind the step-side rule of the ANC has not been taken into account in the party.
What we need is a zero tolerance level for any hint of crime or corruption among government officials.
Busisiwe Mavuso is the Executive Director of Business Leadership South Africa. She also serves as a non-executive director on the board of Eskom. Views expressed are their own.
Busisiwe Mavuso | Ramaphosa simply cannot repair SA without first cracking down on corruption
Source link Busisiwe Mavuso | Ramaphosa simply cannot repair SA without first cracking down on corruption