Marikana a warning shot - Vavi
COSATU general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi has again warned that the country is sitting on a ticking time bomb, and that the ANC-led government will have to take drastic steps to deal with the challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality.
Vavi was addressing the Nedlac summit, the negotiating chamber for government, labour and business, in Johannesburg at the weekend.
"Unemployment, poverty and inequality remain the triple challenges of all our Nedlac constituencies. We have warned over and over again that South Africa is sitting on a ticking bomb.
"The recent Marikana mine massacre was an explosion, sending an alarm signal to us all," Vavi said.
Forty-four people died last month during the ongoing labour-related demonstrations . President Jacob Zuma has instituted a commission of inquiry into the matter.
Vavi said: "Young people constitute more than 60% of the working population, yet they make up 72% of the unemployed. If we fail to provide these young people with the hope of work and an income, the consequences for us all will be catastrophic.
"The crisis of unemployment requires interventions to address the apartheid economy's fault lines, such as the dysfunctional education system that continues to sideline millions and provide them with inadequate skills."
He said education was another important tool "in our struggle against poverty and inequality".
"Many unemployed youth should be at school, acquiring skills and increasing their potential for jobs."
But Vavi warned against any form of exploitation. "These must be genuine co-operatives, not set up by employers to exploit workers. This could be complemented by special measures to promote youth-owned small businesses," said Vavi.
"We must retain our best teachers and provide professional support to improve the quality of education. Teachers' [salaries] must motivate them to remain in education to help lay the foundation of producing knowledgeable workers of the future."
lCosatu holds its elective national congress this weekend.