By Anthony Benadie MPL Leader of the Official Opposition in Mpumalanga:
Note to Editors: This is a member statement by Anthony Benadie MPL, Leader of the Official Opposition, to the Mpumalanga Provincial legislature, on the 5th of May 2015 during the snap debate on Workers Day.
It was Mehmet Murat ildan who said, “No society has any right to forget its workers, because they are the real heroes of the society”.
Such a statement has never been more true than today. Today we pay tribute to the historic struggles of workers for fair employment conditions and standards. We are here today to talk about blue collar workers: The farm workers, construction workers, the cleaners, the miners. These are the people who are the engine of the machine that is the economy. We pay tribute to those in business who have chosen Mpumalanga as their destination of investment, who contribute to our economy and create jobs. Without work the true dignity of an individual can never be restored or advanced.
The DA commemorates workers day at a time when our country has been gripped by Xenophobic attacks, where our foreign brothers and sisters have been brutally murdered and tortured, with their only crime being that they worked, earned a living and contributed to our economy.
The anger of many South Africans are misdirected. The anger should not be aimed at those working, but rather at the repeated failure by the ANC government to grow our economy and create jobs. The continuous high level of unemployment, especially among the youth, and a dysfunctional Tripartite Alliance with COSATU embroiled in its own internal warfare, has forgotten the plight of our nations workers.
Right here in Mpumalanga, repeated ANC policy contradictions, maladministration and corruption has led to:
- 14 000 job losses last year
- 42% unemployment in the expanded definition as of the 3rd quarter of 2014
- 1.5 million Mpumalanga residents living below the poverty line
- A GDP growth forecast of a mere 3% for the period 2013 to 2018
The statistics above are not reflective of a government that is pro-poor or pro-worker. It is reflective of a government that has forgotten the people, who cares more about mega tenders and a government that says Load Shedding is a good thing, yet costing the economy thousands of jobs.
Mpumalanga and its people cannot be left behind in the global economy. We must create an environment that attracts investment, makes it easy to start businesses and we must champion job creating initiatives that can get our province working.
As technology advances and the demand for labour decreases, it is incumbent upon us to ensure that we are educating our nation, developing skills and expertise and promoting innovations that can compete with the demands of the changing world.
The time has come for ANC government to view workers as more than mere voting fodder in their bid to cling to power, by placing the economic liberation of workers and the unemployed at the centre of government’s agenda.