Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi has called for industrialisation to tackle inequality, unemployment and poverty in South Africa.
"We have to stop the processes of de-industrialisation. We've got to ensure that the trade relations that are mutually beneficial can ensure industrialisation in South Africa," Congress of South African Trade Unions' Vavi said on Sunday.
He said the national development plan did not see industrialisation as the core of South Africa's economic programme.
"In fact it invested a lesser contribution by the manufacturing sector and therefore industrialisation in its target to drive unemployment to 6% by 2030.
"That is a very critical problem because it then says the economy must continue to be service-orientated – meaning that all South Africa is going to be about is to buy goods that are already processed and produced by other countries and will be about tourism, retail and all of that," Vavi said.
He said the plan could not be a sustainable economic basis.
Every successful industrialised nation in the world started by a painful process of building the manufacturing sector of the economy to be industrialised, Vavi said.
"That's the only way we can address the crisis of inequality, unemployment and poverty in South Africa. So we are saying the national development plan is not taking us in that direction. It's taking us to the service sector economy and we are going to be selling, buying, we are not going to be manufacturing and that's the problem."
Vavi said the Brics (Brazil, Russia, India and China and South Africa) Summit should allow the trade unions to participate in the discussions for it to be developmental.
"It has to be mutually beneficial from the trade and economic point of view. It can't be that bigger countries will dominate the agenda and set the agenda and benefit more from smaller countries such as South Africa," he said.
Cosatu welcomed the proposal by Brics of a developmental bank but it said this had to be different from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
"This should be free from the stranglehold of a few powerful countries, within or outside Brics. It must be based on a fundamentally different model, which prioritises the developmental interests and needs of the poor majority, not the selfish narrow interests of a few rich shareholders," he said. – Sapa