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Labour Advocates Stronger Institutional Capacity Within SADC to Address Poverty

April 1, 2009

Department of Labour

The labour department has called on the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to strengthen its institutional capacity in order to ensure that laws and policies, designed to address poverty, were implemented correctly. The labour minister, Mr Membathisi Mdladlana, expressed this wish while delivering the opening address at the SADC Employment and Labour Sector meeting in Cape Town.

The minister confirmed that poverty continued to threaten to “destroy the core of our social fibre” within the developing world. Employment creation and the reduction of inequality remained major challenges for African governments.

The recent global economic crisis was imposing additional pressure on the developing world, and the WTO negotiations, as states were competing amongst each other for a share of an ever-decreasing global market. Solidarity amongst developing world countries was under threat.

Despite impressive gross domestic product growth figures for sub-Saharan Africa in recent times, governments had failed to reduce poverty levels. The minister indicated that poverty-reduction efforts could not be based solely on the private sector. “The capitalist mode of accumulation has proved to us that we cannot leave the well-being of the people in the hands of the market’, he said.

Reference was made to the Expanded Public Works Programme in South Africa. The programme had created over 950 000 temporary work opportunities in the past three years. The social sector was seen as having the potential to “employ large numbers of people in areas of home-based care and early childhood development”.

The minister declared that government would seek to promote ‘collective forms of ownership” in the economy in order to boost the impact of the various interventions. A key area to be focused on was worker co-operatives.

The minister advocated that SADC develop a viable cooperative movement in accordance with international conventions and best practice.

Similarly, the Decent Work Country Programmes had to be fast-tracked by member states to address poverty and underdevelopment. Decent work programmes had been initiated by the International Labour Organisation in 2000 to promote decent and productive work by combining social and economic objectives.