Nxesi says myriad problems facing the country require urgent action.
By Lehlohonolo Lehana.
Minister of Employment and Labour, Thulas Nxesi, has called on government and civil society to join hands and become more innovative in confronting the complex challenges facing the country in order to set SA on a higher growth path.
Nxesi said social partners, government, labour, business and the community sector and South Africans at large are compelled, at this critical juncture, to drive the recovery.
"The aim should not merely be to 'build back better' but to go beyond where we were before the poly-crisis by ‘building forward differently’. A new social compact must include meaningful trade-offs and demonstrate new progress in critical areas,"the Minister said.
He was addressing the Presidential Social Sector Summit on ‘Moving towards Social Compacting: From Concept to Practice' on Thursday.
The two-day Presidential Social Sector Summit was held at the Birchwood Conference Centre in Boksburg under the theme, 'Fostering Social Cohesion to Enable Socio-economic Participation in Communities'.
Nxesi said the myriad problems facing the country require urgent action.
"In key areas of service delivery, there is no bloated public service. There might be bloated areas in the administration but at lower levels where services matter, we do not have that… We do not need lots of clerks and administrators. In some areas, you need more people if you want to improve service delivery," he said.
The Minister emphasised that a new social compact should outline the principles of a "new consensus", beyond merely specific actions or interventions.
"This consensus must enable decisive action on interventions whose scale is large enough to place the country on a clear path of recovery.
"The social compact should resolve the current impasse on long-standing areas of disagreement or stalemate, and should not only include issues where broad agreement already exists."
He said the agreement should build on the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Programme (ERRP) but extend beyond it, and be seen as a fresh approach that will shift the needle on economic growth.
Nxesi said the social compact must include commitments from each social partner, not only actions that government will take, but what all partners can contribute.
"We need a common understanding of our challenges, and then having a common vision and shared set of values that places the collective and national interest above any sectional interests," he said.
The Minister said the summit comes at an opportune time for the community constituency, where they will be able to broaden the mandate to take forward to the next consultations on social compacting at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) after the summit.
"We must also endeavour not to leave anyone behind. We therefore need to broaden our consultation and participation wider and beyond government and the NEDLAC social partners.
"It must also include an element of social protection to support the most vulnerable sections of society," the Minister said.