SONA: Ramaphosa admits to ‘social compact’ failure

President Cyril Ramaphosa has admitted that government and its social partners failed to deliver on its promise to establish a social compact.

The government in 2022 promised to establish what it referred to as a “comprehensive” social compact to address issues of economic growth and unemployment within 100 days after the president addressed the state of the nation.

Delivering his State of the Nation Address (Sona) in Cape Town on Thursday evening, Ramaphosa acknowledged that government failed to meet the deadline due to unforeseen circumstances.

Said the president: “We were not able to conclude a social compact in the timeframe we had envisaged because a number of new circumstances emerged that made it difficult for social partners to forge a consensus.

“The social partners have expressed their intention to conclude a social compact and have continued to work on a framework to enable joint action in key areas such as energy, transport and logistics, employment creation and skills development, investment and localisation, social protection, crime, and corruption.”

Ramaphosa said government remains committed to forging a new agreement with its social partners, noting that they have undertaken practical collaboration in some areas. He noted that a few compacts have already been concluded.

“We see the commitment of all social partners in the compacts that have been forged to fight the Covid-19 pandemic and undertake the largest vaccination programme in our history.

“We have seen it in initiatives like the Solidarity Fund, which mobilised society, citizen activism and funding to achieve common goals, and in partnerships to end gender-based violence and femicide, and to respond to the effects of climate change.

“We have seen the benefits of this approach to promote investment and to develop master plans in sectors of the economy such as automotive, clothing and textiles, poultry, sugar, agriculture, and global business services,” he said.

According to the president, the master plans that have been concluded bolster the revival of some sectors, investment injections from the private sector, livelihood, and job creation.

He said labour, businesses, and communities continue to express a commitment to put in place a viable compact.

“We are pleased that social partners, particularly business, have been providing support to implement the Energy Action Plan in the spirit of social compacting. Similarly, we have developed a close working partnership with both labour and community in supporting other aspects of the energy crisis response,” Ramaphosa said.

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