SA jobs summit must address ‘job-destroying’ laws - race relations institute


South Africa's two-day jobs summit running to Friday should address "job-destroying’ policies such as the government's plans to amend the Constitution to allow for expropriation of land with compensation, the Institute of Race Relations said on Thursday.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has convened the summit as South Africa grapples with stubbornly high unemployment, currently at 27.2 percent of the labour force.

"As the government and other stakeholders sit down to address the employment crisis in South Africa, the job-destroying effects of the current expropriation debate need to feature," IRR analyst Terence Corrigan said.

"Job creation requires economic growth but growth requires investment. South Africa is not going to attract much by way of foreign or domestic fixed investment as long as the uncertainty lingers that the state may have the power to seize property without paying for it."

"In this respect, far from helping to empower people, the current expropriation debate is having the opposite effect," Corrigan added.

The government says its land reforms are meant to redress ownership imbalances created by South Africa's apartheid past which left large tracts of land in the hands of minority whites and has dismissed fears that the process will be as chaotic as that in neighbouring Zimbabwe.

IRR noted that South Africa's unemployment rate far outpaced that of its partners in the BRICS grouping, with joblessness officially sitting at 13.1 percent in Brazil, 4.7 percent in Russia, 3.5 percent in India and 3.9 percent in China.

"“Even if the job-destroying effects of EWC (expropriation without compensation) can be dealt with, there are many further labour market reforms that the government will need to implement if South Africa is to drop its rate of unemployment to emerging market norms," Corrigan said, urging the government to abandoning legislation setting a minimum wage and to ease hiring and firing laws.


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