Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Business and NGO leaders making presentations on proposed solutions to the country’s unemployment crisis at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) beginning on Thursday have warned that the event is being "stage-managed".

The process that underpinned the first jobs summit in two decades was merely repackaging old initiatives and projects, they said. Limitations on the subjects to be explored will make the gathering a "dud".

Nedlac’s social partners — the government, business, labour and the community — have held discussions with various stakeholders including leading academics to gather a wide variety of views ahead of the summit.

A business leader who spoke to Business Day on condition of anonymity said he got the sense his presentation was a waste of time as there was already a pre-determined outlook on which direction the parties would go in an attempt to create jobs and stimulate growth.

Founding director of policy research organisation the Centre for Economic Development and Transformation, Duma Gqubule, said President Cyril Ramaphosa had limited the scope of the gathering by saying solutions would be within the "current fiscal framework".

"This time as well ... the president said whatever is going to happen will happen within the current budgetary framework," Gqubule said.

The summit was also marred by criticism that it was not "inclusive". The absence of the country’s biggest trade union, the National Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) and its federation, the SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) will be glaring. Saftu has boycotted the summit.

Labour analyst Mamokgethi Molopyane said Numsa and Saftu had a critical voice in the labour market, even though they might differ with the government on many issues and remain outside of the Nedlac labour constituency.

Organised labour will be represented by the Cosatu, Fedusa and Nactu federations, as Nedlac’s labour constituency.

"You can’t be in discussions on key issues with people who agree with you. Numsa and Saftu were going to bring proposals … I would have hoped for some components of the EFF ... It is important that people with different opinions ... be in that summit, whether they be the EFF or the DA," she said.