Creating descent work for millions of South Africa’s unemployed will be at the centre of government discussion around economic policy, Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel said on Wednesday. The new ministry is one of three tasked with steering the economy in President Jacob Zuma’s cabinet, the others being a planning commission under former finance minister Trevor Manuel and the finance ministry headed by Pravin Gordhan.

Analysts and media have questioned whether the various ministries will be able to work together effectively. Asked about possible changes to investor-friendly economic policies of the past decade referred to as GEAR (Growth, Employment and Redistribution), Patel told SABC radio that talks would focus on practical ways of increasing employment.

“The economic framework that came out of the Polokwane conference of the ANC changes the nature of debate. It’s no longer a debate about GEAR or not GEAR.” GEAR, established under former President Thabo Mbeki, proposed relatively conservative economic policy, and led to inflation targeting and fiscal policies that saw South Africa reduce its budget deficit and control public spending.

The plan was widely criticised and opposed by the labour and communist allies of the ruling ANC. They blamed inflation targeting for fairly tight monetary policy that they claim hurt the poor. “It’s really a simple question of how do you place employment and decent work at the centre of our economic policy,” Patel, a former trade union leader, said.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: