Cape Town - The future of the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) needs further debate, MPs heard on Wednesday.
There is need for a serious and intensive broader policy debate by social partners from business, organised labour and government about Nedlac's continued relevance, labour department director general Nkosinathi Nhleko told the National Assembly's labour committee.
During a presentation by Nhleko and departmental officials on the department's strategic plan for 2012/13, some members of the committee said the Nedlac's relevance had expired and it was time to "close shop".
Nhleko replied that Nedlac's relevance could not be determined through a strategic plan.
"Nedlac as an institution of social dialogue was brought about by prevailing circumstances at the dawn of our democracy."
As to whether the country still needed it, this could not be answered by one partner to the exclusion of others.
"It will help to remember that this debate is not unique to South Africa. Many countries still grapple with the question of a social parliament. While some have abandoned it, others have kept it."
Such a debate should be able to answer why some people thought Nedlac did not address developmental goals meant to boost South Africa's economic goals, Nhleko said.
Nedlac executive director Alistair Smith said the debate should focus on repositioning the institution rather than disbanding it.
"Factors that impact on Nedlac's performance include the commitment by partners to social dialogue, tensions among partners, as well as the capacity of the institution," Smith said.
The solution lay in social partners agreeing on the rules of engagement in the interest of accountability, he said.