/ 11 January 2011

Cosatu: New growth path ‘falls short’

The government’s new growth path, unveiled late last year, was not enough to fundamentally transform South Africa’s economy, the Congress of South African Trade Unions said on Tuesday.

“Cosatu’s view though is that, overall, the new growth path proposed by government falls far short of the comprehensive and overarching development strategy … that will fundamentally transform our economy and adequately address the triple challenges of extraordinary high levels of unemployment, poverty and deepening inequalities,” spokesperson Patrick Craven said in a statement.

It was released after a meeting of Cosatu’s central executive committee on Monday, during which the plan was analysed. After the release of the plan in October, Cosatu said it needed time to study the document.

Cosatu’s critique of the proposed NGP was informed by the its own plan released in September last year, in which it proposed taxing the “super rich” and having the state play a more aggressive role in the economy.

On Tuesday, however, Craven said the document “in its current form” did not “adequately” take forward the ANC’s economic resolutions adopted at its 52nd national conference in Polokwane at the end of 2007.

“[It] will require to be overhauled if it is to succeed in uniting the alliance behind the type of programme envisaged by all alliance formations. Its weaknesses demonstrate that it was not a product of collective wisdom of alliance processes.”

The economy has often been central to tension between the ruling alliance partners — the ANC, Cosatu, and the South African Communist Party.

Former trade unionist and current Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel unveiled the economic strategy, which aims to create 5-million jobs over the next decade. Among other things, the NGP identifies investments in five key physical and social infrastructure areas: energy, transport, communication, water and housing.

Craven said Cosatu had developed “detailed alternative proposals” which it will raise with its alliance partners at “every opportunity”, including at a meeting of the ANC’s leadership this week and an upcoming alliance summit. Discussion was needed to “overcome the structural and analytical deficiencies” which the union federation had identified in the plan.

Given “further tweaking and reworking”, some of the proposals in the plan could “unlock South Africa’s potential”. — Sapa