DA leader Mmusi Maimane delivers his closing address at the party's federal congress in Tshwane, April 8. Picture: MASI LOSI
DA leader Mmusi Maimane delivers his closing address at the party's federal congress in Tshwane, April 8. Picture: MASI LOSI

SA’s legions of jobless people will be able to opt out of provisions such as the national minimum wage if the DA forms the next government after the 2019 general election.

This was among resolutions taken at the party’s national congress, which was held in Tshwane at the weekend. After hot debate, delegates passed the proposal to amend national minimum wage legislation to include a job-seekers exemption certificate (JSEC), which would enable workers to opt out of the minimum wage.

The National Minimum Wage Bill stalled in March, delaying implementation of the national minimum wage.

The bill was expected to be passed before May 1. If the bill is passed and implemented, it would result in workers receiving basic minimum pay of R20 an hour.

First priority

DA leader Mmusi Maimane said in his closing address at the congress that the party had resolved that "getting South Africans into jobs will be the first priority of our economic policy, and our singular obsession in government. This is what being in government is about for us — expanding opportunities for people to work. Jobs, jobs, jobs.

"Every South African must know that, above all the other improvements that we bring in government, even more important than cutting corruption, where the DA governs, [is that] more people have work. Simple," Maimane said. DA federal council chairman James Selfe said that in terms of the resolution workers ought to be able to opt out of being paid the minimum wage.

"They can always opt back in at a later stage if they found they were being exploited," he said.

Selfe said that the people the DA had spoken to were desperate to become employed.

He said many wanted, at the very least, any job so that they could be able to get job experience that would make them more employable.

Job seekers' grant

Selfe said the DA wanted to include a job seekers’ grant, which did not currently exist, but that this was deferred to the federal council.

"What we want to do is to work out exactly what is the amount of money that would be paid for the grant and if it was affordable, and how it would be affordable to make it sustainable." The resolution on increasing child-care grants was not put to congress, Selfe said, adding it would be discussed by the federal council.

He said the party wanted more time to refine exactly what the amount must be, and that it could vary across the country.

With Natasha Marrian