President Cyril Ramaphosa says that the government and private businesses must cooperate to take on the triple threat of unemployment, inequality and poverty in South Africa.

Writing in his weekly letter to the public, the president outlined a programme for the government to work alongside businesses to promote socio-economic development.

“Since the advent of democracy, our people and indeed social partners have on many occasions been able to unite around common programmes to address the challenges facing our society,” said Ramaphosa.

He added that through the ‘Social Compact for Growth and Jobs,’ where members of society agree to cooperate for the social benefits of the country at large, “we would be able to take the necessary steps to combat high levels of joblessness, growing inequality and poverty”.

“To reduce the impact of these triple challenges, we need a number of impactful interventions including to attract much more investment and enhance the capability of the state.”

“Over the last few months, a team led by the ministers of Employment and Labour, Trade, Industry and Competition, and Finance have been meeting with social partners to map out the priorities that must be reflected in the new social compact. As part of this work, the team has had ongoing meetings with social partners.”

He said social partners in the past have been able to reach important social compacts around job creation, economic growth, Eskom’s restructuring, the global financial crisis and the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan as a response to the effects of Covid-19.

Ramaphosa said a framework for a social compact has been developed and that it identifies priority actions to achieve higher levels of investment and growth, increase employment, involve the private sector, protect the rights of workers, expand support for the unemployed and tackle poverty.

To ensure the plan does not fall short at the point of implementation, full consensus is needed, and precautions need to be taken even if it means delaying the finalisation of the new comprehensive social compact until all social partners agree on the contribution they will make, he said.

While the state has a responsibility to improve the climate for the private sector to invest, implement social support measures to protect society’s most vulnerable, and poverty eradication programmes, there must be complementary actions by business, he added.

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