Summit was about votes not jobs

Sipho Pityana, President Cyril Ramaphosa, Bheki Ntshalintshali and Thulani Tshefutha signing the continuance jobs summit agreement at Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand last week. Picture: Bhekikhaya Mabaso African News Agency (ANA)

Sipho Pityana, President Cyril Ramaphosa, Bheki Ntshalintshali and Thulani Tshefutha signing the continuance jobs summit agreement at Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand last week. Picture: Bhekikhaya Mabaso African News Agency (ANA)

Published Oct 7, 2018


The first Jobs Summit spearheaded by President Cyril Ramaphosa and held this past week brought together a governing party and a powerful and wealthy section of society which, for the past 24 years, has been directly responsible for the creation of unemployment and poverty in South Africa.

Within that context is a tradition by the governing party to make decisions on behalf of the victims of poverty and unemployment without any consultation or a mandate from the majority, who are yet to see the fruits of freedom and whose rights are invalidated by a life of indignity.

In 2015, economic analyst Bo Mbindwane accentuated how bank cash reserves of around R1trillion and roughly R54billion (20% of the country’s gross domestic product) have been sitting on the balance sheets of corporations since 2006, trillions which could have been used to create jobs, renew factories (machinery and equipment), and “nudge the economy up by at least 1%” and spur a multiplier effect in other sectors while contributing to tax collection.

Hoarding of large sums of cash, dodging or delaying paying taxes, affects the fiscus, social security programmes and other public programmes to service the poor.

Mbindwane adds that “South Africa sees many companies, including Anglo American, making their initial capital in this country, only to use it to expand externally, dropping South Africa as a priority in the process.

"Often these corporations proceed to ignore how they made the capital.”

According to the EFF’s deputy president, Floyd Shivambu, “the report of the high-level panel on illicit financial flows from Africa found that, between 1970 and 2008, South Africa lost R1.208 trillion because of aggressive tax avoidance.

“Yet very few tax avoidance cases have been taken to court, as the current tax laws are outdated and do not account for the fact that the difference between illegal tax evasion and legal tax avoidance is more blurred than ever, due to current economic policies and the financialisation of the world economy.”

How can the government create jobs, roll out social grants, provide free quality education, a minimum wage for youth, free health care and improve security when companies are engaged in acts of economic terrorism?

How can South Africans who bear the brunt of unemployment also trust that the ANC political elite led by Ramaphosa - who wears two caps as a politician and profiteer - would create an enabling environment for the victims of unemployment?

The exclusion of Africans, in particular, and youth by those who control the economy from participating in the mainstream economy does not require a Jobs Summit but political will from the ANC to change, and enact economic legislation to create economic ownership and control for the black majority hampered by legislation such as the Preferential Procurement Policy Framework Act, the Municipal Fiscal Powers and Functions Act, Banking Act and the Construction Industry Development Board Act.

The ANC-led government under Ramaphosa must change the scope of the financial sector which continues to gate-keep finance from the black majority.

Shivambu speaks of how “banks continue to use race as a mechanism of granting black people access to mortgage and other forms of finances” and “keeping alive economic apartheid by using access credit to shape human settlement spatial patterns in terms of access to properties, facilities, education (and) lifestyle choices”.

He says “banks and South Africa’s financial system place almost all black people in debt and have designed a cartel-like system that makes it impossible for black people to own valuable property, yet gives cheaper and easily accessible credit for perishable goods.”

Ramaphosa should acknowledge that current macro-economic policies, which put the interest of corporate South Africa and multinationals first, need to change and that business summits merely add to the illusion that capital has any interest in changing the country.

The same government which has spent R15 million on such a talk shop also intends to retrench more than 300000 government employees and privatise state-owned entities, which will also lead to job losses.

It is my view that the Jobs Summit was a mere electioneering tool by the ANC-led government and false advertising by a governing party which, for the past few months, has engrossed itself in structural adjustments and austerity measures whose interest is not to create jobs, but to punish the working class and the poor for the dire performance of the economy.

* The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.