Multi-Party Charter outlines plans to tackle high unemployment

Multi-Party Charter outlines plans to tackle high unemployment. Picture:Tumi Pakkies/ Independent Newspapers

Multi-Party Charter outlines plans to tackle high unemployment. Picture:Tumi Pakkies/ Independent Newspapers

Published Jan 25, 2024


The Multi-Party Charter on Thursday revealed a plan to tackle South Africa’s high levels of poverty and unemployment.

Speaking in Durban, the coalition of opposition parties said they would focus on creating a conducive environment for economic growth, while at the same time growing the country’s skills base.

Besides reducing unemployment and poverty, their strategy further aimed to increase South Africa’s global competitiveness.

“In the face of South Africa's bleak economic outlook, marked by 41% unemployment, a constrained business environment and decreased investor confidence, the Multi-Party Charter for South Africa has unveiled our plan to arrest this decline by stabilising public finances, generating inclusive economic growth, and enhancing the quality of our education system.

“Our approach to generating job-creating economic growth is rooted in our principles, on which there is broad consensus among the parties represented in the charter,” it said.

The organisation said mismanagement of the country’s economy was not only reflected in the unemployment rate, which stood at 41.2%, but also in the pain South African households experienced as a result of ever-rising costs.

“With these urgent issues in mind, the Multi-Party Charter, representing the biggest alternative political bloc to the ANC by far, has come together to present a new economic direction for South Africa.

“The ANC’s mismanagement of our economy has created an unproductive and uncompetitive economic environment, perfectly illustrated by Durban Harbour, the backdrop to this press conference.

“Durban Harbour should be a place of busting economic activity, the gateway for South Africa’s export products, but instead, it is a major bottleneck throttling our economy, along with our broken railways and education system.”

The multi-party bloc said all partners were committed to these shared ideas and to working together in a new national governing coalition to grow South Africa’s economy and create jobs.

The shared principles include:

• Driven by the necessity to position South Africa as a competitive market for innovation and investment, the Charter will unlock the full potential of investment by removing barriers and eliminating overly-prohibitive limitations. We will therefore defend property rights and introduce additional legislative measures to protect land, capital and intellectual property rights.

• Furthermore, the Charter will seek to create competitive local manufacturing and productive capacity. To help South African businesses to become more competitive, we will reduce fuel prices by specifically targeting the general fuel levy, reforming fuel taxes and deregulating the sector.

• To ensure value for money in government expenditure on economic infrastructure, we will further enhance the efficiency and transparency of fiscal management. We will establish fiscal discipline on government borrowing by capping the debt-to-GDP ratio annually through implementing a "fiscal rule". Crucially, we will ensure the independence of the South African Reserve Bank.

• Critical to our plan is the need to unleash the full potential of the SMME sector by tapping into the informal sector and introducing a broad range of regulatory exemptions for SMMEs within their first three years of operation to improve the SMME survival rate. To further support the sector, we will raise SMME's VAT threshold to R5 million turnover and exempt small businesses from all labour legislation other than the BCEA.

• To strengthen South Africa's workforce capacity and skills to respond to our current and future economic needs, the Multi-Party Charter will grow the skills base of the workforce through visa system reforms to allow scarce skills to enter South Africa to replace skills lost locally to emigration, recognise apprenticeships by reintroducing technical colleges, and gazette Trade Test Training that the TVET sector will perform.

• Importantly, the Charter recognises that we must future-proof our workforce by aligning skills development mechanisms with current and future economic needs and enhancing the competitiveness and productivity of our labour force.

• To equip every South African with a quality education that can address societal inequalities, enable active participation in the economy, and increase productivity, the Multi-Party Charter.

The Star

Sipho Jack