Living in a country governed by slogans, we may as well join in. My contribution, “Down with Work…Give me Money”, seems fitting enough amidst rising unemployment and an increase in unrealistic wage demands.
The South African economy, which was hailed as relatively unscathed by the global financial crisis, according to vote hunting politicians as recently as three months ago, when Trevor Manuel denied South Africa was in a recession, miraculously imploded. This rapid collapse must therefore be quite a shock to the naïve believers, arc-optimists and proud carriers of good news stories. In the last few weeks “no recession” became the worst recession in years, manufacturing output dropped dramatically, mine output dropped and South Africa became a net importer of food.
The three biggest employers after the state are struggling to remain competitive and jobs are being lost at alarming rate, making the Presidents promise of 500 000 new jobs by year-end meaningless. With nearly 200 000 jobs lost in the first five months of the year, the target, sucked out of our President’s miracle producing thumb, must now be seen for what it is, another empty and unattainable promise. It will require very creative mathematics to get to the target. However, with the “Math Literacy” skills, combined with the warped logic displayed by “nieu-economists” in the ANC government, we could end up with an interesting and surprising claim to success come year-end and time to account.
All the job losses in these critical industries are conveniently attributed to the global economic crisis, obscuring the fact that our unemployment woes are entirely attributable to misguided economic policy and mismanagement. The mere fact that the South African economy was outperformed by most emerging economies in the years prior to the “Great Global Economic Crisis” bears proof. The gold mining industry, which, at current prices, should be booming but because of high costs, it remains marginal, output continues to fall and with it jobs. Volkswagen, whilst announcing cutbacks in South African manufacturing are opening new manufacturing facilities in India. Commercial farmers, whilst selling farms in South Africa for coastal residential development, are increasing production of products such as sugarcane elsewhere in Africa. The employment of domestic servants is falling rapidly. I can site many more examples.
Why is this happening? The problem must be laid at the feet of the ANC government and its partners COSATU and the SACP. Our employment woes can be attributed to laws, regulations and policies related to labour, land ownership and mineral rights and the insecurities arising from it. To complicate matters the emphasis on decent meaningful jobs has given rise to the perception that gardening and house-work are inferior jobs which, combined with regulated and unrealistically high minimum wages, resulted in a large number of job losses. People who used to earn R1800 per month plus accommodation and food are now lying idly about, doing nothing but breed in order to increase their share in social grants. Whilst people are retrenched and companies go belly-up, trade unions are encouraging their members to demand wage increases, in most cases, considerably higher than the current inflation rate, with no prospect of improved productivity.
The president of NUM, Senzeni Zokwana, recently stated unequivocally that the unions do not strike at the drop of the hat, this whilst they were holding a gun against the heads of the employer leaving him little option other than to capitulate and hope for a miracle. So much for Zuma’s pre-election call on his supporters to follow the example of unemployed “poor white” Afrikaners, who after the great depression, took their picks and shovels and worked for a pittance. Instead of following basics, the government will proudly point to their prize-winning job destroying social plan which makes South Africa proportionally the highest payer of social grants in the world, not realizing this is one of the evils causing our high unemployment and low productivity levels. Their misguided and warped sense of depravity, results in the firm believe that social spending equals upliftment. Any intelligent psychologist worth his salt will tell you social hand-outs in most cases discourages the will to work, not that some of the unemployed and even employed need too much encouragement to lie around idly at home. Some would say certain people would strike, kill and wreak havoc for the opportunity to be unemployed. This brings me to the next, and certainly, the main reason for South Africa’s employment dilemma.
COSATU, whilst people are wallowing in misery, are instigating the destruction of jobs by demanding unjustifiable wages. To them it is not about the protection of the worker, it is all about doing less for more. It was therefore rather almost laughable when that brilliant economist of our time, Zwelinzima Vavi, solemnly declared, in an interview yesterday referring to people losing jobs, “COSATU are standing with you in this troubled time”. Pity they do not stand with the unemployed masses, the “worthless” people out there that have no hope of ever working as a result of restrictive labour practices forced on the economy by the government and COSATU.
My call on those union members who lost, or will lose their jobs, think back and count the hours and days lost by the company you work(ed) for as a result of your right to strike. As you count those days and hours, realise this; those were nails in the coffin of a dead or dying company. Many of you are probably delighted with your retrenchment package, which will enable you to lie around at home, drinking beer. Soon however, the money will be gone and you will be in the same leaking boat as your unemployed, starving neighbour. When you start to suffer the hunger pangs, and your family and begs for food, when you turn a darker shade of black because of your malnutrition, spare a thought for those loyal workers who worked when you and your union friends were wreaking havoc on the company and the economy in the name of your inalienable right to strike. Once your confused mind and empty tummy, allows you to make sense of the suffering you brought on those dear to you, go to Mr. Vavi and thank him for what he did to you, your dear ones, the country and the economy. I doubt you will have the guts to do that. Generally, your brevity and that of your ilk only exists when you are part of a mindless mob receiving suitable incitement from the likes of the Vavis of our world.