WELCOME AND INTRODUCTION
Deputy President Rampahosa, Ministers and Deputy Ministers, Directors General, Leaders of Organised Labour , Organised Business and the Community, members of the diplomatic corps , guests and media who have joined , dear Friends and Compatriots.
NO PART FREEDOM
The successful unfolding of our 5th fifth democratic elections earlier this year is testament to how far we have come in entrenching our hard won political freedom. But as we celebrate 20 years of our democracy it is necessary that we take stock of the state of our society and especially of the socio-economic challenges that threaten our social cohesion and may eventually even threaten our hard won democratic gains. For as Tata Madiba reminded us – there is no part freedom.
The past year has been another very difficult one for South – Africa. It has also been another difficult year for social dialogue in general and Nedlac in particular. There is therefore a huge responsibility on us as social partners to recognise that we can no longer continue with a business as usual approach.
REVIEW OF 2013-14 PERFORMANCE
However in reviewing our activities for the past year it is important to recognise that we have also made some progress, especially from an internal perspective. In terms of our core operations, ie dealing with policy and legislative proposal we are continuing to make good progress in improving the overall performance as measured in our Annual Performance Plan. This is partly due to our efforts to beef up the secretariat, accompanied by the introduction of a performance management system. But it also points to a greater adherence to the Nedlac protocol by the chamber members and convenors. As shown by the following slide our Year on year our performance against our APP objectives has improved significantly –
GRAPH OF YEAR ON YEAR COMPARISON AND ARISING
It is important to note that on the legislative and policy front, the second half of 2013 was particularly busy as government sought to beat the deadlines for processing legislation prior to the 2014 elections. This resulted in a spurt of Nedlac engagements on various pieces of legislation which were not originally scheduled in our Annual Performance Plan.
HIGHLIGHTS OF LEGISLATION
Despite the heavy demands that this placed on our chambers and our resources, including the demands on social partners, a number of Nedlac reports on key pieces of legislation were finalised. These include the Public Administration Management Bill, Expropriation Bill, and the Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Bill.
We are pleased to report that the internal Governance of the entity has continued to improve. We have again achieved an unqualified audit. During the past year we have established an functioning SCM unit to ensure stricter compliance to the PFMA and Treasury requirements. However more work still needs done to improve overall governance. This is especially in true in terms of ensuring appropriate delegation of authority and to ensure that constituency interests and dynamics don’t unduly impact on the administration and fiduciary obligations of the entity.
We also need to reconsider the role and functioning of the Executive Council to ensure high level representation form all constituencies and ways to enhance strategic engagement on the key socio-economic challenges facing our nation.
The effective function of social dialogue is critically dependent on the commitment of all its social partners. In this regard the commitment of government to the Nedlac Act and Protocol is particularly crucial. In this regard a meeting was held earlier in the year with former Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, in his capacity as leader of Government Business to discuss concerns that some key pieces of legislation were not tabled for consideration as is required in terms of the Nedlac Act and protocols.
This meeting also explored ways to improve coordination and cooperation between Nedlac and the Leader of Government Business. This includes ensuring improved coordination and tracking of the legislative Programme, as well as developing a protocol to strengthen the link between Nedlac and parliament.
We recently had a very encouraging introductory meeting with Deputy President Ramaphosa as the new Leader of Government Business and we look forward to strong relationship with his office..
THE Socio- Economic Situation – Challenges ahead
In his February 2014 State of the Nation address, President Zuma, emphasised the need to accelerate growth and tackle the triple challenges of unemployment, inequality and poverty. He also highlighted the importance of social dialogue and recognised the role of Nedlac, while calling on organised Business and Labour in particular to work together to bring about stability, especially in the mining industry.
President Zuma has again emphasised the importance of Social Dialogue in his June 2014 state of the nation address. President Zuma specifically called on social partners to work together to accelerate inclusive growth. This has inspired our theme for the summit – Working together to accelerate inclusive growth.
From Polarisation to Partnership
We also welcome the President’s call for Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa to head a special process under the ambit of NEDLAC to tackle the challenges in our labour relations environment and in particular to address the issue of wage inequality. This process is now underway and will receive priority attention over the next few months.
In this regard it seems apparent that many of our recent upheavals in our labour relations environment have less to do with the specific design of laws or institutions and more to do with the capacity, conduct and commitment of the social actors involved.
This leads to a more intractable challenge for the future of social dialogue, tripartism and collective bargaining. It calls for strong leadership and a paradigm shift away from the culture of adversarial and positional bargaining and a greater focus on consensus seeking, building relationships of trust and networks of collaboration rather than just legislative intervention.
A central challenge for South Africa in the current era is how to deepen democracy while accelerating economic development and maintain social stability in a competitive and uncertain global environment.
It is thus encouraging to note, as is evidenced in the State of the Nation address that government acknowledges that we need a balanced approach in addressing the complexities in our labour relations environment. In the short to medium term our growth prospects are constrained by global conditions and domestic factors including low investment and savings, weak domestic demand, low business confidence, energy constraints and challenges in our labour market. We need to have urgent conversations about how to tackle these growth constraints but these conversations must be guided by a willingness to resist quick fix and knee jerk solutions.
Vision Leadership and Common Purpose
Nedlac’s Founding Declaration envisages a pivotal role for social dialogue in promoting a shared vision and cooperation to enhance growth, equity and participation. Yet despite the National Development Plan, the implementation of a shared vision and social cooperation to improve our socio-economic prospects remains elusive.
This is not a new problem in fact in 1999 the then Director Jayendra Naidoo wrote in this annual report that that “…Nedlac has been weak in building a national vision between the constituencies or an agreement on overall policy direction”. The key question is why??
BUT WE MUST BE REALISTIC AND PRAGMATIC
In the current context, the prospects for cooperative approaches to addressing our socio-economic challenges appear slim as our discourse remains highly polarised and ideological; the turmoil in the mining industry and other sectors as well the spread of community based conflicts are unlikely to abate in the short term; Inter-union rivalry, including the challenges within the business constituency have all weakened the prospects for effective national level tripartite engagements.
This does not mean that we must abandon Nedlac as a forum for national level social dialogue but rather that each and every constituency must urgently take responsibility and show leadership commitment to build trust and alter the mode of engagement to encourage partnership in building our common national interest.
In the words of Madiba – After climbing a great hill one only finds that there are more hills to climb.
We wish to thank the overall convenors and chamber convenors for their support and working hard to ensure adherence to the Nedlac Protocols. Your hard work and dedication has helped to improve our overall performance as well as on the time frames for consideration of all policy and legislative engagements. I wish to thank my colleagues in the CCMA, ILO, the Presidency, Office of the Deputy President and other departments. My friends and comrades in the business community, labour movement and community. A special thanks to the team at Nedlac – I know the hard work and effort that you put in day after day- I know that it is you love for this country that keeps you going even as you work as you don’t get much gratitude for what you do. But from me and on behalf of all our social partners I say Siyabonga Khakula! Finally thanks to my family for sustaining me in every way.