Tuesday, 04 March 2008

Zuma Is Not The Enemy

Like many other white middle-class South Africans I held my breath during the ANC Polokwane conference held last year. I waited anxiously to hear who would be elected ANC President and would therefore most likely be our next national leader. When Jacob Zuma was elected to this position I expressed aloud my disappointment and concern at having a man with such a blotted copybook as our president.

Recent events however have caused me to wonder if it is in fact the trade unions, COSATU in the main, who we have to be concerned about. Last week Zuma opened the debate on reform of labour legislation to ensure that the unacceptably high unemployment rate be brought down. COSATU quickly shut down this debate in what appeared to be an attempt to remind Zuma where his power base lies and who voted him into power.

During 2005 the ANC national general council meeting prepared an initial paper on labour market regulation and the existence of a 'second economy'. Deputy Finance Minister Jabu Moleketi then presented a discussion document which included ideas on building a dual labour market.

It was COSATU's violent reaction to these proposals that lead to these important issues being swept under the carpet at last year's Polokwane conference. This has now lead to the current situation where the president of the ruling party simply raised issues his party has raised before. He said that trade unions operated in the 'first economy' and that the 'second economy' was neglected "by all of us". Zuma pointed out that some labour regulation had the unfortunate effect of cutting out the poorest of the poor and that flexibility was need to address this.

What South Africa most needs now is a leader who will not bow to the pressure exerted on government by increasingly vocal and militant trade unions who seem intent of self-protection. We need a leader who understands the need for economic growth through legislative reform and who will not allow petty politics to derail the progress made so far.

While Jacob Zuma is still not my first choice national leader, I have been surprised (perhaps even impressed thus far) at his statements regarding economic growth and development. He finds himself in an interesting position - a support base among the poor, a power base among workers and an entire country waiting for 2009 to see if he can actually deliver. Add to this mix possible prosecution and a pending court case - its a wonder he can sleep at all!


RemSpecED - Paula said...


Nice article.

I agree on the leadership issue. We badly need leaders to step up and lead us - especially when things are looking so negative at the moment.

I actually wrote an article on the subject recently. Hope you don't mind - I have posted the URL below.


Good article - keep it up!

Arthur said...

Thanks for the comment - totally agree that solid leadership is now needed - it must however be principled leadership that comes off a strong values-driven base.