Cape Town - President Jacob Zuma says it is critical that the government and business work closely together now so that when there is an economic upswing, the country can take full advantage.
He told business leaders at a meeting in Cape Town on Tuesday that while they could not change the past, they could ensure how the future panned out.
“Let us work together to ensure that in the next economic upswing, South Africa will be in a position to grow faster and employ more people,” he said.
This is the second meeting between the government and CEOs this year. The country is facing massive job losses this year as the economy continues to limp along. Some are warning that a recession is around the corner which is can partly be blamed on the state and business talking past each other.
Zuma told the meeting that a failure in communication and cooperation between the government and business was not an option.
“We are turning the corner. The channels of communication needed to remain open at all times,” he said.
The government would continue to take the lead in developing an enabling economic infrastructure, which needed co-investment from business, the president said.
While the meeting was welcomed across the board, Cosatu said it was incomplete without labour.
Cosatu spokesman Sizwe Pamla said the federation was concerned that the outcomes would be unilaterally imposed on workers.
“The emerging message and discourse coming from both capital and the state hint at strategies that includes privatisation, cut in social spending and labour flexibility. These are only meant to defend and maintain the status quo.
“Cosatu will not agree to wage cuts, freezing of vacancies and unilateral attempts to raise productivity without workers being consulted,” he said.
“It is patently obvious that solutions to the current retrenchment crisis cannot be found through negotiations at a plant level or even at a industry wide level.
This should be an issue for national negotiations between labour, business and the state.”
Cosatu warned that without any fundamental change in the economic structure of the economy as whole, there would be no lasting solution to the country’s problems.