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Ramaphosa reaffirms his commitment to social compact to parliament

President Cyril Ramaphosa says government 'is determined the social compact should be substantial and meaningful and make a real difference to the trajectory of our economy'. File photo.
President Cyril Ramaphosa says government 'is determined the social compact should be substantial and meaningful and make a real difference to the trajectory of our economy'. File photo.
Image: GCIS.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has told parliament he is committed to ensuring the social compact announced in his February state of the nation address (Sona) will materialise, despite business telling the Sunday Times the process had stalled.

DA leader John Steenhuisen, in a parliamentary question dated May 27, reminded Ramaphosa that May 21 marked 100 days since he made his announcement, promising to finalise a social compact to create employment opportunities and fight hunger.

He asked Ramaphosa to tell parliament whether the social compact had been finalised and “if not, what progress had been made and the reason for the delay? If so, what is the exact nature of the social compact, the impact he expects it to produce, which persons and/or organisations have been consulted, on what date(s) were they consulted and who has been leading the negotiations for the social compact?”

Ramaphosa replied to Steenhuisen that he did indicate in his recent presidency budget vote that “we are working in earnest to conclude our negotiations on a social compact”.

He said: “The engagements are taking place within the context of Nedlac, which is a statutory forum for social dialogue. We set ourselves the ambitious target of 100 working days to signal the urgency with which we need to find common ground on difficult issues that have wide-ranging implications for our economy.

“While all social partners share the same goals of inclusive growth and employment, there are differing views on how to achieve those goals.

“We are determined the social compact should be substantial and meaningful and make a real difference to the trajectory of our economy. We are therefore pushing ahead to achieve an agreement that is inclusive and lasting.”

The Sunday Times reported last week that Ramaphosa had missed the 100-day deadline with participants yet to reach a consensus.

One of the social partners, the Black Business Council (BBC), accused Ramaphosa and his government of not being “genuine” in their talks about fixing the economy. Business leaders said government had not set up a meeting since Ramaphosa made the announcement in February.

“We met the president on January 28 because the state of the nation address was coming up. At that meeting we discussed setting up a four-a-side and he appointed four ministers — Thulas Nxesi [employment and labour], Mmamoloko Kubayi [human settlements, water and sanitation], Enoch Godongwana [finance] and Mondli Gungubele [presidency],” said BBC president Elias Monage. 

The four-a-side set-up was meant to shape a framework for engagements between business and the government, but Monage said a follow-up meeting between the ministers and business never took place.

“When the government went to Sona and mentioned the social compact, it was not what we discussed and agreed on with him and the team. That is why I am saying the government is not genuine, the president himself is not genuine.

“Even the 100 days, that was us, not him. We came up with that commitment. We said when we have the economic indaba, we sign off, it goes to Sona and then finally to the budget. We then count the 100 days from the Sona. Now, which 100 days are we talking about? The 100 days are gone. If the government is not serious about this, they are going to see flames.” 

Earlier this month Ramaphosa conceded the process had stalled and 100 days might have been an unrealistic target.

Cosatu president Zingiswa Losi told the Sunday Times there had been a few bilateral meetings between organised labour, government and business.

“All parties have agreed it’s not physically possible to reach an agreement on a social compact within the 100 days set by the president at Sona,” said Losi.

“We felt what matters is the substance of the social compact, not a deadline. We must rather allocate sufficient time and engage in substantial matters with real concrete actions included.”

TimesLIVE

 


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