SA needs an alternative development strategy – COSATU

Federation says GDP just one indicator of development

COSATU statement on the latest GDP numbers

6 March 2018

The Congress of South African Trade Unions has noted the Stats SA report that shows that South Africa’s economy, as measured by the GDP has continued its recovery with 1, 3 % growth in 2017. While these numbers have elicited some excitement in some quarters, we cannot ignore the fact that GDP is but one indicator of economic development and does not factor in other indicators such as unemployment and income inequality.

The major pillars of an economy in any country are the agriculture, mining and manufacturing sectors. Unfortunately, while all of these sectors are growing and contributing to the GDP, they are not creating jobs, firstly, because the first two sectors provide raw materials for the manufacturing sectors that is almost nonexistent in this country.

Secondly, these sectors are not creating jobs because of automation and mechanisation that has seen workers being replaced by machines. This growth is accompanied by the introduction of technology in the workplace with no regard for local economies and the people who are pushed aside by such developments.

The mining companies continue to submit section 189 retrenchment notices showing their intention to retrench more workers, despite many companies like Anglo American reporting massive profits.

South Africa needs an alternative development strategy because pursuing economic growth for its own sake is not enough. Economic growth is only a means to an end and in itself; it is not enough to solve the triple crisis of unemployment, deepening poverty and inequality.

What matters to the workers is the quality of growth and not necessarily the quantity. We have experienced jobless growth before that increased inequality and poverty. We continue to call for a politically governed redistribution of wealth and opportunities from the formal to the non formal sectors of the economy.

We are also unwavering in our call for the broadening of the mandate of the reserve bank to include economic growth and employment creation. The Reserve Bank should consider reducing real interest rates, and government should consider introducing concessional finance for productive investment.

Issued by Sizwe Pamla, National Spokesperson, COSATU, 6 March 2018