Enoch Godongwana has bashed Cosatu for rejecting the proposed youth wage subsidy.
ANC economic transformation head Enoch Godongwana has taken a swipe at the party's alliance partner Cosatu for rejecting the proposed employment tax incentive Bill aimed at creating jobs for the youth.
The labour federation this week threatened to embark on massive strike action to protest against the proposed youth jobs incentive.
"Cosatu has called for the immediate withdrawal of the Bill, saying it entailed employment subsidies in the form and structure that it had opposed on the basis of their adverse implications for the labour market.
"This is notwithstanding the labelling of the proposals as employment tax incentives," Cosatu said in a submission presented to the standing committee on finance on October 16. "Earlier proposals limited the subsidy to young workers. However, it is being proposed to expand the coverage to special economic zones and designated industries, raising additional concerns."
Godongwana, a former unionist, this week told the Mail & Guardian he failed to understand why Cosatu was opposed to the incentive.
"We agreed during the alliance summit recently to look at different packages of the [jobs] incentives. The tax incentive Bill that is now before Parliament is nothing unique. We have incentives in the automobile and textile sectors. Those industries would not have succeeded had it not been [for] the tax incentives.
"The incentive is directed at assisting youth employment. I can't understand these people. Why accept it [tax incentives] in certain sectors, and not in the [entire] economy. If there are loopholes, the scope is there to close them. Yes, this is not a panacea, but it will assist in creating some jobs," said Godongwana.
He rejected claims by metalworkers' union Numsa that ANC and government policies, including the National Development Plan and the youth wage subsidy, had been stolen from the Democratic Alliance.
"The first person to raise the issue of the wage subsidy was the finance minister [Pravin Gordhan]. The fact that the DA likes some of our policies can't be our problem ... the problem is that people raise these in newspapers, when we have internal structures.
"We invite Numsa to engage with us through Cosatu in the economic committee formed by the alliance," said Godongwana.
He said it was not in the interests of the ANC to turn "Cosatu into a labour desk" and that the ANC could not be a political desk of Cosatu.
"There must be mutual respect of each other's independence," said Godongwana.
He was confident the party would win next year's elections, despite criticism of its policy positions, failure to deliver basic services in some areas and the emergence of political parties such as Agang SA, led by anti-apartheid activist Mamphela Ramphele, and Julius Malema's Economic Freedom Fighters.
The ANC, he said, would not push for populist policies such as land expropriation without compensation and the nationalisation of mines.
Godongwana said the issue of the 50% super tax on mining houses has been put on ice to encourage investment in order to create more jobs.
"The minister of finance has appointed a committee to look into taxes. We want to concentrate on three areas – redistribution, sustainable development and competitiveness of the industry. We must be able to meet the national objectives without destroying the industry," he said.
Godongwana was not bothered by the fact that the government would not reach the target set by Jacob Zuma after he was elected president in 2009 of creating five million jobs by 2014.
"I don't like targets. The important thing is the impact we make on employment, social protection and social service. All this improves the quality of life.
"We are not going to make many promises going into the elections. We will ask South Africans to judge us on our track record ... Expectations are high as a result of our delivery successes. Those who are protesting are saying you have delivered for the guys next door, why not us?" he said.