Economic indaba blasts violent strikes

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iol nws sept 1 Collins Chabane INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS File photo: Performance Monitoring and Evaluation Minister Collins Chabane. Picture: Sizwe Ndingane

Pretoria - Law enforcement agencies were urged to act firmly and avoid lawlessness which has often accompanied wage disputes, Performance Monitoring and Evaluation Minister Collins Chabane said on Friday.

Briefly outlining the resolutions of an economic forum on the state of the South African held at the Sefako Makgatho Presidential Guesthouse, east of Pretoria, Chabane said delegates had strongly denounced the violence.

“The parties spoke out strongly against, and condemned the violence that has accompanied some of the strikes and public protests,” he said.

“They urged law enforcement agencies to act firmly to curb lawlessness and violence within the framework of the law.”

The meeting was attended by several government ministers and officials, labour representatives, including Congress of SA Trade Unions general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi and president Sidumo Dlamini, and Federation of Unions of SA general secretary Dennis George.

Officials from Business Unity SA and the Black Business Council were also present. The talks lasted until after 10pm.

Chabane said the parties from the government, business and labour had agreed to take measures to improve investor confidence in the South African economy.

The parties had also voiced support for the judicial commission of inquiry into the shootings at Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana.

“The parties urged people to participate freely and for law enforcement agencies to assist in ensuring the right environment for the people to participate with the support of the community,” he said.

A follow-up meeting would be held on Wednesday “to finalise the discussions”, said Chabane.

Earlier, President Jacob Zuma told delegates that South Africa's economy had been put under immense pressure by the wave of wage disputes and widespread protests.

He said urgent steps were needed to avoid an economic downturn.

“We reiterate our call to business and labour to work together to find solutions, so that we can revert to the primary task at hand, which is to build the country, build the economy and improve the quality of life,” he said.

“We are confident that working together we will be able to find solutions, informed by the Constitution and the values of our democracy. We have a long history of productive social partnerships in our country.”

Zuma said the spate of labour disputes, which have often degenerated into violent protests and chaos, were a major cause for concern.

“We have been seriously concerned about the violent nature of the strikes.

“I am sure that all of us share that concern. We also agree that this is not something we want to see in our country, where there are mechanisms in place to deal with industrial disputes, or any other disputes,” he said.

“Labour disputes do not need to degenerate into violent confrontations and 1/8lead to 3/8 loss of life as what happened tragically in Marikana and other strikes.” - Sapa


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