Cape Town - The Democratic Alliance has accused President Jacob
Zuma of being afraid to make the tough choices that would benefit many
unemployed young people.
In a reply to a DA parliamentary question, Zuma
confirmed that the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) remained the
stumbling block to the implementation of the youth wage subsidy, DA
parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko said on Wednesday.
"The president also said government is still seeking
trade union buy-in for the youth wage subsidy that would create more
than 420 000 new jobs.
"This is a president who is afraid to make the tough choices that would benefit so many unemployed young people," Mazibuko said.
Zuma, in his written reply, said discussions on the
youth wage subsidy had taken place within the economic sectors and
employment cluster, and consultation with social partners began at the
National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) on May 10 last
"Social partners continue to discuss the youth
employment incentive at Nedlac. As such, final proposals have yet to be
made to cabinet," he said.
Cabinet did not intend to abandon the policy. However,
discussions with social partners, alongside the public comments received
on the discussion paper, would inform a revised document and the design
of the proposed youth employment incentive.
Zuma said cabinet would respond to the final proposals made.
The government had undertaken to resolve the concerns
raised by social partners, in particular organised labour, in Nedlac.
This included outlining the role of the youth employment incentive as an
important pillar of the economic development department's multi-pronged
strategy to confront youth unemployment, and adjusting features of the
proposed incentive to address the specific concerns of social partners.
Zuma said there had been a number of valid concerns
raised with the youth employment incentive, including the potential
displacement of older workers by younger workers, the age of those
potentially qualifying for the incentive, and the duration of probation.
The government's discussions with social partners were aimed at
mitigating these concerns.
The rules, design, and monitoring of a youth employment
incentive would be critical to actively reduce the risk of negative
unintended consequences, including potential displacement, and help
maximise net job creation.
The government would focus on accelerating social
dialogue and finding satisfactory solutions to the valid concerns that
social partners had raised, Zuma said.
Mazibuko said if the subsidy had been implemented by
the original deadline of April 1 2010, around 300 000 young people
would have had jobs by now.
"And, contrary to the claims of Cosatu, this would not
have been at the cost of existing jobs. So what is the hold-up? Why does
the president need to seek further buy-in from Cosatu?" she asked.
Cabinet was not bound to wait for the Nedlac process to be concluded before implementing the subsidy.
"(Zuma's) government introduced this policy. His
finance minister budgeted R5bn for it to be implemented. He cannot
sit on the fence any longer. He is the president, (Cosatu secretary
general) Zwelinzima Vavi is not," she said.
"President Zuma must explain to the unemployed youth of South Africa why he is choosing Cosatu's interests over theirs."
So far, Zuma had chosen to put the politics of the
tripartite alliance ahead of the interests of millions of unemployed
South Africans, said Mazibuko.
"Instead of showing leadership, he has chosen votes at
Mangaung. South Africa cannot wait any longer. The time for President
Zuma to act in the interest of the unemployed is now," she said.