Cosatu sees red over unemployment data

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Johannesburg - Cosatu is appalled by employment statistics showing the economy shed 122 000 jobs in the first quarter of this year, pushing unemployment to 25.2 percent from 24.1 percent.

“These shocking figures confirm the catastrophe that South Africa’s unemployment rate is,” it said.

It is the highest rate among more than 40 emerging markets tracked by Bloomberg.

Cosatu is part of the tripartite alliance with the ANC and the SACP. It campaigned for the ANC in yesterday’s election, as it has done since 1994.

In contrast, the National Union of Metalworkers of SA, Cosatu’s largest affiliate, voted for abstention at its special national congress in December.

It was venting its anger over the labour federation’s decision to charge general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi with sexual misconduct and other misdemeanours.

Cosatu said that when the ANC was returned to power today, its first priority must be to bring down this massive level of unemployment.

The labour federation said the declaration of its 2013 collective bargaining, organising and campaigns conference, which succinctly summed up the policies that must be followed, must be urgently implemented.

The declaration says the core of the second radical phase of the transition of the national democratic revolution must be a fundamental shift to transform the structure of the economy and address the triple crisis of poverty, unemployment and inequality.

Surprisingly, Cosatu goes on to say “we” have not come close to achieving the economic demands in the Freedom Charter, which say that the people shall share the wealth of the country and that the mineral wealth, the banks and monopoly industry shall be transferred to the ownership of the people.

It is surprising because the ANC renounced its ownership of the charter and its contents almost two decades ago.

The two partners therefore implicitly did not sing from the same hymn book during the elections.

Other key demands in Cosatu’s declaration include:

- Decisive state intervention in strategic sectors of the economy, including through strategic nationalisation and state ownership, and the use of a variety of macro-economic and other levers at the state’s disposal, which can be deployed to regulate and channel investment, production, consumption and trade to deliberately drive industrialisation, sustainable development, decent employment creation, and regional development, and to break historical patterns of colonial expansion and dependence.

- The urgent need to radically overhaul macro-economic policy in line with the radical economic shift which, the federation says, we all agree needs to happen.

- The radical economic shift requires that institutionally the Treasury, which constitutes the biggest obstacle to the government’s economic programme, needs to be urgently realigned and a new mandate needs to be given to the Reserve Bank, which must be nationalised.

- Urgent steps must be taken to reverse the current investment strike and export of South African capital.


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