Employment, structural reforms & labour legislation: What SA's expecting from Ramaphosa's recovery plan
As the country waits for President Cyril Ramaphosa to detail the government's much anticipated economic reconstruction and recovery plan, politicians and citizens have expressed their expectations.
Ramaphosa is expected to detail the plan on Thursday during a joint sitting of parliament with the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces.
This comes after the Covid-19 pandemic has plunged SA's already ailing economy into turmoil.
Since the government declared a state of disaster on March 15, companies have closed their doors, many have lost their jobs, and the expanded unemployment rate increased to 42%.
According to the presidency, the recovery plan has been widely deliberated among government and social partners, business, labour and community, under the auspices of the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac).
The draft plan was tabled at the cabinet lekgotla last week and it was finalised at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday.
Here is what SA is expecting from Ramaphosa's recovery plan:
DA: Rapid implementation of big-ticket structural reforms
DA leader John Steenhuisen said if the plan fails on implementation, it will go down in history as Ramaphosa's “economic destruction inaction plan” and his presidency will mark the biggest ever sustained contraction of SA's economy.
Endless plans and empty rhetoric are not going to cut it. Implementation is all that counts now.John Steenhuisen
“Assuming the final version of this plan echoes the most recent draft circulated, it contains some long-overdue pro-growth reforms which, if actually implemented, will have a major positive impact on SA’s economic and social wellbeing,” he said.
Steenhuisen said the plan is unlikely to move the needle on socioeconomic wellbeing unless SA sees the real and rapid implementation of the big-ticket structural reforms promised, particularly energy reform.
“Our future, and President Ramaphosa’s legacy, is at stake,” he said. “The president has long and often promised pro-growth reforms, and he must be held to account for these commitments. Endless plans and empty rhetoric are not going to cut it. Implementation is all that counts now.”
ATM: Youth employment programme
The president of the African Transformation Movement (ATM), Vuyo Zungula, says he expects the plan to cover youth employment.
“If the economic recovery plan doesn't prioritise and provide any clear programme on youth unemployment it's not a recovery plan,” he said.
Zungula said the plan has to heal not only the economy but the people as well.
“ATM is calling for a people-centred economic recovery plan driven by ubuntu, peace, and accountability.
“We proposer a four-legged plan comprised of a legislative amendment to create efficiencies, a different tax regime, a fundamental restructuring of economic paradigm and a secure energy plan.”
ActionSA: Change labour legislation
ActionSA president Herman Mashaba said for SA to move forward, government must change labour legislation which he characterised as “rigid”.
“SA’s unemployment rate sits at 42% and 2.2 million jobs lost to date. A factor to be considered, our labour laws make it difficult to hire South Africans instead of making it easier,” he said.
“They protect the employed for now, at the expense the employable. Many SMMEs lose out on growth opportunities so they can hire more South Africans.”
Mashaba said the “rigid labour laws” limited employment opportunities.
“While workers’ rights must certainly be protected, we cannot afford to do so at the expense of 10 million people living without the dignity that comes with gainful employment.”
Numsa: Move away from what's not working
National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) general secretary Irvin Jim said Ramaphosa must take forward what works in terms of fundamental structural change.
Speaking on Newzroom Afrika, Jim said Ramaphosa must come up with a budget that will ensure that economic growth is stimulated.
“What the president needs to do is to come up with an expansionary budget so that we can stimulate economic growth and ensure that manufacturing, in particular, is harnessed by defending the current capacity. We expect the government to be pushing for a moratorium on job losses.”
LISTEN | All you need to know about Ramaphosa's Economic Recovery Plan
SA chimes in
On social media, many said they expect Ramaphosa to save the economy, fight corruption, and create a sustainable and long-lasting solution for the country.
We expect #Ramaphosa to announce a #EconomicRecoveryPlan which will obviously mention the poor, but not talk to them.— Concourt failed Makate🐄🐓🐧🌿 (@Spiwo) October 15, 2020
It will not address any of our concerns. The concerns to be central are those of foreign investors from the West.
Another speech which will not speak to us. pic.twitter.com/yyQ9Ju5pHk
Excited to hear what CR has to say about the South African recovery plan, my predictions:— Homegrown Finance (@homegrownfin) October 15, 2020
-Huge budget deficit
-Mutterings about clamping down on corruption
-Surely not another interest rate cut?
-CR radiates positivity with his smile#EconomicRecoveryPlan
This afternoon #EconomicRecoveryPlan will be bad news for everyone. And it should be. The government of the @MYANC must surely recognize that the leadership by consensus model is not working.— VT (@VusiThembekwayo) October 15, 2020
Chronic levels of unemployment.
So what now?
There are tens of thousand of youth in Tourism in South Africa that have experienced an abrupt halt to their future in our Industry. We need stimulus measures that address this as well as a clear plan for opening.#OpenNotOpen #SouthAfricaisTravelReady #economicrecoveryplan pic.twitter.com/cxPzRY2ep9— Youth Tourism South Africa (@YouthTourismSA) October 15, 2020
either more to the left or the right. It is predictable, but we shall see.— #ProudlySouthAfrican🇿🇦 (@Cdelucky16) October 15, 2020
An economic recovery plan that gets South Africa to +-5% has to entail the following:— Phumlani M. Majozi (@PhumlaniMMajozi) October 10, 2020
1. Tax cuts
2. Government spending cuts
3. Deregulation of business and labour markets
5. Scrapping of BEE
Do the above you have a booming economy & rapid job creation.
I am not expecting much from the socalled "economic recovery plan" The anc cannot afford the medicine needed to get this economy on track ..such as cutting the budget of government service by about 40%...so i am expecting a recovery plan made up of far fetched cosmetic measures— Chris (@kriswentzel9) October 15, 2020