SA economy needs radical reconstruction, say political groups

Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi at the second State of the Nation Address 2014. (David Harrison, M&G)

Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi at the second State of the Nation Address 2014. (David Harrison, M&G)

Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said he was worried that the government was moving ahead with the implementation of employment tax incentives, despite strong opposition to this from labour.

President Jacob Zuma said during his State of the Nation Address on Tuesday night that more than 130 000 jobs have been created since the introduction of the employment tax incentive five months ago. 

But Vavi was not impressed by this. “He [Zuma] says 133 000 jobs were created but we are not told how many jobs have been lost . We are sitting at 36.1% youth unemployment.
 It’s a serious crisis,” said Vavi

Cosatu has previously argued that the only way the government could deal with the issue of unemployment was if it changed the current economic policies.

“The need for such a radical reconstruction of our economy was brought home by the latest Stats SA report on youth unemployment, released on June 5 2014, which revealed that unemployment [in the narrow definition] among youth increased from 32.7% to 36.1% between 2008 and 2014, during which the youth unemployment rate has, on average, been 20% higher than for adults. 

“Youth make up 52% to 64% of the working population, yet account for only 42% to 49% of those with jobs. This shocking statistic is symptomatic of the wider economic crisis we face. Despite the advances we have made in the first 20 years of democracy – the scrapping of racist apartheid laws, a Constitution that enshrines human rights, andmany progressive laws and social grants to protect the poorest South Africans – our economy has changed relatively little since 1994”. 

Unhappy opposition
Opposition parties were also not impressed by Zuma’s speech.

Democratic Alliance Parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane said Zuma speech ignored issues of corruption and youth development. Maimane said while the national government’s intended intervention in municipalities was a good step in the right direction, he did not understand why Zuma needed to announce something that should have been done long ago.

Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelizi said he did not expect anything new from Zuma speech. 

“What I liked was his honesty, that the six-million jobs are coming from the expanded public works programme. People expected that these were would be decent jobs,” said Buthelezi. 

Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema was also scathing. He said Zuma repeatedly mentioned the word radical without understanding its meaning. “You can’t promise radical economic changes and tell people the government will continue with its [current] programmes. 

“He can’t push radical economic policy changes because he knows he will upset his principles. He [Zuma] was supposed to tell the nation that tough action would be taken against mining bosses who are failing to comply with the mining charter,” said Malema.



Matuma Letsoalo is a senior politics reporter at the Mail & Guardian. He joined the newspaper in 2003, focussing on politics and labour, and collaborated with the M&G's centre for investigations, amaBhungane, from time to time.In 2011, Matuma won the South African Journalist of the Year Award and was also the winner in the investigative journalism category in the same year.In 2004, he won the CNN African Journalist of the Year prize – the MKO Abiola Print Journalism Award. Matuma was also a joint category winner of the Mondi Shanduka SA Story of the year Award in 2008. In 2013, he was a finalist for Wits University's Taco Kuiper Award. Read more from ML

    Client Media Releases

    Changes at MBDA already producing the fruits
    University open days: Look beyond banners, balloons to make the best choice
    ITWeb, VMware second CISO survey under way
    Doctoral study on leveraging the green economy
    NWU's LLB degree receives full accreditation