Vavi: SA needs to change economic policy

There is a need for changes in the country’s economic policy, Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said on Thursday.

“In the current economic climate, in which the working class faces harsh social and economic reality, the change of direction in policy is now more urgent. If we continue on the trajectory of stabilisation as the key pillar of economic policy, it is very likely that our aspirations for shared and equitable growth may not be realised,” said Vavi.

Vavi was addressing the third national congress of the Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood and Allied Workers’ Union (Ceppwawu).

The congress, which started on Wednesday and is expected to come to an end on Friday, is being held at a hotel in Cape Town.

Vavi said the current policy does not address the underlying causes of under-development within the country.

“Growth on its own will not result in the kind of structural transformation envisaged in the Freedom Charter and the RDP [Reconstruction and Development Programme],” he said.

Vavi said though apartheid policy cannot be eradicated in one generation, there is no justification for the slow progress in improving the lives of black people.

“We need to see progress in the material conditions of the black working class, especially for the youth and African women. Otherwise the democratic breakthrough will be meaningless to a large portion of our people who may be tempted to believe apartheid was better.”

He said people still have confidence in the ruling African National Congress, adding that he does not doubt that people will be voting for it in the upcoming elections.

“In turn the ANC has a duty not to disappoint the expectations of the people to be liberated from national, class and gender oppression,” he said.

Referring to Ceppwawu, the general secretary said the union faces a “serious danger of coming apart”.

“I should also be brutally frank; the union confronts serious danger of coming apart. The signs include the fact that the union is losing membership constantly and is being outflanked by other unions.”

He added that there is no evidence that the union has ideas to turn this around. While job losses provide an explanation for the decline in membership, other organisational reasons need to be looked at.

“Is it because we have become lax in providing service to our members? Are we paying enough attention to organisational development to ensure a strong, relevant and dynamic organisation?” he asked.—Sapa

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