HILARY JOFFE: Compacting and consulting while the economy circles the drain

20 September 2020 - 00:18 By Hilary Joffe

President Cyril Ramaphosa this week hailed the "ambitious social compact" crafted by the social partners at Nedlac as a historic milestone. It could yet prove to be - but that depends on the president himself, and so far the signs aren't so good. SA did not need yet another economic plan. But the president likes to consult ahead of (or instead of?) making big decisions. He is big on social compacting. If the economic recovery plan that was agreed on at Nedlac this week was what he needed to give him the comfort to implement urgent and long-promised reforms, it could be a big step. But the process hasn't turned out quite as it should have. First is the content. Business, government, the ANC and labour had each released their own sets of proposals on how to get SA's economy out of the crisis. When Ramaphosa attended an August 13 meeting with the social partners - business, government, labour and community - he requested a single document.

The intention, certainly as business saw it, was that the partners would agree on a set of measures that could be implemented immediately. Though there was some divergence between the partners' various plans, there was also much convergence. The idea was to distil that into a crisp 10-item Action Plan that could be jointly implemented - and for which the partners, especially the government, would be held accountable at Nedlac...

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