On Wednesday, Parliament will debate the DA’s Motion of No Confidence in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s cabinet of incompetents.
Although there is extremely stiff competition for the position of worst-performing Minister, the DA believes that the Minister of Employment and Labour, Thulas Nxesi, deserves to figure at the front of the pack. Below are five reasons why Nxesi should be axed.
Unemployment is a runaway train: The Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) for the fourth quarter of 2021 is due to be published tomorrow, and economists expect unemployment (on the narrow definition) to breach 35 per cent. This would be the highest unemployment rate yet recorded. Currently almost 12 million South Africans do not have a job. We are heading towards 50 per cent unemployment if we count those who have given up looking for work. Critically, the trend has worsened on the Minster’s watch. But instead of revising labour laws and regulations to free up the labour market, Minister Nxesi’s approach to his expanded portfolio had been characterised by inertia. The automatic extension of collective bargaining agreements to parties who didn’t sign them in the first place is a jobs-killer. It strangles new and small firms. But the Minister refuses to ditch this onerous provision (and several others) of the Labour Relations Act.
Employment Equity Amendment Bill is a job-destroying jackhammer: At the Minister’s instigation, the Employment Equity Amendment Bill is being piloted through Parliament. This is a pernicious piece of legislation which will deter investors, sap economic growth and destroy jobs. Critically, the Bill empowers the Minster to set numerical employment equity targets for any national economic sector after a vaguely defined process of consultation with the relevant sectors. The new powers conferred upon the Minister are completely incompatible with the principles of a market-based economy. The law is a destructive exercise in social engineering on the basis of race.
UIF is failing claimants: The Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) was required to step up to the party during the Covid-19 State of Disaster and national lockdown, but unfortunately the Fund left many desperate claimants in the lurch. The UIF’s Covid-19 TERS benefit scheme was plagued by fraud and corruption due to inadequate departmental financial controls; and even now, beneficiaries are struggling to get paid money that is rightfully theirs. Instead of handing over the administration of the scheme to the South African Revenue Service, as proposed by the DA at the outset, the Minister sat on his hands. Huge numbers of people suffered as a result.
Compensation Fund is a dysfunctional disaster: The Compensation Fund, long ravaged by maladministration and financial irregularities, has stumbled from one audit disclaimer to the next. But instead of stopping the rot, the Minister has fixated on third-party administrators as the source of all the Fund’s woes. After failing last year to thwart third-party administrators through amendments to the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act, the Minister is now trying to achieve the same harmful ends through the backdoor of regulation.
Nxesi’s Department is stoking xenophobia: Minister Nxesi had jumped on the xenophobic bandwagon by trying to blame foreign nationals for our sky-high unemployment rate. The draft National Labour Migration Policy (NLMP) recently released by the Department of Employment and Labour for public comment is nothing more than a throwback to apartheid-era job reservation. The Minister intends to slap quotas on the number of documented foreign nationals who can be employed in sectors like agriculture, hospitality and tourism, and construction. This is a short-sighted move; it reeks of populism and won’t have a shred of impact on our unemployment crisis. In short, legally-entrenched employment quotas are a throwback to apartheid-era job reservation, which was deposited into the dustbin of history in 1979 – long before the transition to democracy. As usual, the Minister and the ANC are stuck in the past.
For as long as Minister Nxesi remains in his cabinet position, employment in South Africa will never improve, and the government will stay wedded to all the wrong solutions. The time has come for him to get the chop.
If President Ramaphosa won’t fire any of his crooks and freeloaders in Cabinet, we will take that burden off his hands and do it for him.