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Cosatu tackles SA's economic ills

Jun 29 2011 11:50 Sapa

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Johannesburg - The economy and the country's political situation were topics of discussion at Cosatu's central committee on Wednesday.

Talks revolved around general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi's secretariat report, which he delivered in a three-hour session on Tuesday.

In the report Vavi describes "contradictory policy developments, zig-zagging in government and major resistance from old centres of economic power in the state".

"The result has been that economic policy realignment, where it has taken place has been partial, and has had to coexist within the old macroeconomic policy framework."

The government subsequently failed to provide direction during the economic crisis, when over a million workers lost their jobs, it said.

The gains on closing the policy gap between Cosatu and the ANC made at the ruling party's national conference in Polokwane in December 2007, however, did not end the "contestation" within the ANC, the government and the rest of the alliance.

The alliance consists of the ANC, Cosatu, the SA Communist Party and the SA National Civics Organisation.

Vavi accused the "rightwing" within these bodies of interpreting the Polokwane resolutions "to give them a conservative meaning".

The government's new growth path, unveiled at the end of last year, was a "compromise policy statement" reflecting battles on economic direction within the state.

Vavi reiterated Cosatu's demand for the country's economy to break out of its "structural crisis", inherited from apartheid and colonialism.

He repeated warnings the country was sitting on a "ticking time bomb" due to rising unemployment, high levels of poverty, lack of income redistribution, its mineral dependence, health and housing problems and the concentration of the means of production in white capitalist hands.

Vavi said Cosatu intended defending the Polokwane resolutions and the ANC leaders elected there. He however warned that if they failed to turn around poverty, inequality and unemployment, "society may be persuaded" by the Democratic Alliance and "others" that leftwing solutions to the economic crisis did not work.

"If by 2014... our people see no real tangible change in their situation and start to lose hope that we can change their lives for the better, they may start questioning the whole leftwing project.

"If by 2018 the crisis remains, and the structural fault lines remain, we risk a social implosion on the scale we have seen in north Africa recently."

Vavi said Cosatu would continue to negotiate with the government and provide its input to the new growth path.

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi is expected to address the central committee on Wednesday afternoon. The union federation would then focus on Walmart's acquisition of Massmart Holdings [JSE:MSM] with an address from Phillip Jennings, the general secretary of UNI Global Union. 

cosatu  |  anc  |  zwelinzima vavi  |  unemployment  |  poverty  |  sa economy
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