OPINION

Govt and job creation: If they could, they would

Eugene Brink |

14 February 2022

Eugene Brink says much of what Ramaphosa said in his SONA flies in face of ANC and alliance orthodoxy

Government and job creation: If they could, they would

14 February 2022

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s 2022 State of the Nation address was hailed and condemned from political role-players, the public and analysts alike. Quite surprisingly, Helen Zille called it a bold speech that challenged the hecklers in his own party. So did quite a few political analysts. Opposition parties and many others doubt whether his soaring rhetoric about combating corruption and unfettering the private sector to grow employment will match its implementation.

All of them are, to varying degrees, correct in their assertions. Much of what he said flies in the face of the orthodoxy in his own party as well as the tripartite alliance, but seeing is believing and we’ve heard some sensible proposals from him before without any action, and in some instances, action that runs contrary to the intentions contained in his speeches.

Not surprisingly, Cosatu and the SACP swiftly and vehemently fulminated against his contentions about private sector growth and job creation. TimesLIVE reported that the hoary party, who has no electoral mandate except for that which the ANC won on promises other than instituting communism, called on Ramaphosa to re-examine his statements about the state not creating employment and that the private sector should take the lead in producing jobs. They distanced themselves from it and characterised it as fatally flawed and neoliberal.

“Besides the fact that the ‘We’ is definitely not inclusive, but in fact refers to the category of individuals who believe in that fatally flawed assertion, it is important to build a capable developmental state with organic capacity to serve the people diligently and capably,” SACP spokesperson Alex Mashilo said in a statement.

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“This is one reason the private sector has also created and increased unemployment through retrenchments in pursuit of profitability and profit maximisation. It is also one reason inequality, both wealth and income inequality, is systemic under capitalist relations of production,” said Mashilo.

Moreover, he asserts, state employment is not only found in public service and administration but so too in public entities such as Eskom, Transnet and development finance institutions.

These contentions inevitably beg some questions. How has government fared in creating employment? How has this employment promoted the interests of the country in general? How much room is there for government to solve the unemployment crisis?

The state of the state