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Labour Wrap: Proudly SA 'blames the victims'

Apr 07 2016 06:43
Terry Bell

THERE has been much double talk over the past week or so as President Jacob Zuma and ANC general secretary Gwede Mantashe tried to squirm and spin their way out of the debacle of Nkandla, says Terry Bell in his latest Labour Wrap.

However, he adds that the same could be said of Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa when he last week addressed the “Buy Local Summit” of Proudly South African.

Bell refers to Proudly SA as an “expensive, clearly unsuccessful campaign” that tends to turn the blame for unemployment and poverty onto the victims. He notes that Ramaphosa maintained that buying local products is “the silver bullet to challenge unemployment, inequality and poverty”.

This implies that it is consumers who buy on the basis of price rather than patriotism who are to blame for the listed social ills. This, says Bell, is nonsense. For the majority of the population price must be the determining factor.

The remarks by Ramaphosa, says Bell, are only a slight variation on the “tired and fundamentally dishonest” cliches that have been trotted out by Proudly SA over the 15 years since it was established. Trade unions, he says, decried such comments and were promised that Proudly SA would be much more than a simple buy local campaign.

They were led to believe that it would be part of a general drive to improve the social and economic conditions of the population at large. and that it would also put pressure on the government to amend its free market policies. So the three major federations joined the Proudly SA board.

The unions hoped that the stress of the campaign would be on not importing goods from countries that did not adhere to labour standards - to wages and conditions - at least on a par with those in South Africa. It turned out to be a forlorn hope.

But now, perhaps belatedly, the unions represented in Proudly SA have apparently had enough. They have demanded a meeting with Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies to sort out what one described as “a mess”.

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