“We’ve got to work out, amongst all of our relationships, how we navigate our contradictions. Each of us has to play our part in creating the right kind of environment, to meet the goals that we have set out today – growth, inclusivity, jobs, better education,” said South African finance minister Pravin Gordhan.
“There’s no friction-less society anywhere in the world. You’re going to have contradictions, you’re going to have friction. The question is how do you manage them and how do leaders draw out the relationship between the medium term and the immediate.”
At the release of the Goldman Sachs report titled ‘Two decades of freedom: What South Africa is doing with it, and what now needs to be done’, Gordhan addressed the issue around the dynamics between labour, government and business.
“An employment situation is between employer and employee. We’ll come back to the politics of that relationship but that’s the primary relationship. The labour relations environment that was created very early on in the South African dispensation post-1994 was to make sure that we had a modern framework within which labour relations could be conducted,” he said.
“It’s the recent events over the past year or so that have shown that some elements of that labour relations framework need to be reviewed, in order to accommodate new developments or to be extended to areas where it wasn’t extended in the past.”
He added that the situation between South Africa’s economic participants has to be seen as a relationship, not an affair.
“There’s nothing illicit about it. It’s a relationship that you have in many parts of the world between political parties and labour unions. You see it in Britain, you see it elsewhere in the world. Even American politicians, who are supposed to be new or liberal capitalists, go to unions for their votes, and ensure that they bring them on board,” said Gordhan.
“We should be careful not to demonise this relationship which is part of our national discourse as well.”