As the cabinet’s five-day planning meeting kicks off in Limpopo today, Cosatu members have warned that the government’s much-hyped new economic plan could go the same route as the one that pitted them against former president Thabo Mbeki and brought him to a fall.
National Union of Mineworkers boss Frans Baleni, who attended part of the ANC’s two-day lekgotla in Midrand on Thursday and Friday, yesterday told The Sunday Independent that it was crucial for the ruling party and government to hear the unions on the document.
“If we can change part of it, we will be happy, because all stakeholders would have contributed and their footprint would be in the plan, but if (the New Growth Path) is non-negotiable like Gear (Mbeki’s Growth, Employment and Redistribution policy), it will take us back to an old era,” he said.
Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini, who attended the lekgotla plenary report-back on discussions in the lekgotla’s New Growth Path commission, said he was happy with the progress.
“We agreed that we need to continue to do a lot of work on the New Growth Path,” he said.
Dlamini said the ANC had extended an invitation to Cosatu to raise the issue again within the party’s economic transformation committee, as well as at the alliance summit set for the last weekend of the month.
Cosatu and the ANC seemed headed for a clash when the labour federation said in a press release earlier this week that it could not work with the government in the implementation of the New Growth Path as it stood.
The labour federation said the plan “falls far short of the comprehensive development strategy capable of unleashing a plan that will fundamentally transform our economy and adequately address the triple challenges of extraordinary high levels of unemployment, poverty and deepening inequalities”. It needed to be “overhauled if it is to succeed in uniting the alliance behind the type of programme envisaged by all alliance formations”.
Cosatu is particularly unhappy about the proposed wage caps in the plan, which it says would see workers’ wages frozen while the implementation of such a cap for bosses would be near impossible.
President Jacob Zuma, whose administration is set to be defined by the New Growth Path, this week told the lekgotla there should be “no theory (and) no politics” when it came to discussions on job creation, and that the government should look at ways to create more jobs in its priority service delivery sectors such as education, health and rural development. - Sunday Independent