New deal ahead for economy
By Brendan Templeton, Business Report
19 May 2000
Johannesburg - A 'new deal' on South Africa`s economy would soon be
hammered out by labour and government on one side and top business
leaders on the other in a Codesa-style process to be finalised at the
National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac), Zwelinzima
Vavi, the Cosatu general secretary, said yesterday.
The business leaders who would spearhead a major deadlock-breaking
initiative with Cosatu were Nicky Oppenheimer, chairman of De Beers;
Leslie Boyd, vice-chairman of Anglo American; Marinus Daling, chairman
of Sanlam, Bokkie Botha, the Nedlac business convenor, and Christopher
Kopke, the Mercedes Benz SA managing director, Vavi said.
It was envisaged that Cosatu and the government would act as partners
to identify their common concerns in the Presidential Working Group,
while other core economic issues would be thrashed out at the
Millennium Labour Council, which would probably be co-chaired by Vavi
The final deals would be cemented at Nedlac and would transform the
body from a mere talk shop into a "place where real deals are
Vavi said the government could not be a neutral party or a referee to
the process as it had committed itself to job creation and getting the
economy working for all.
Sources said today could be crunch time for the Nedlac process as well
as a possible watershed in terms of injecting impetus into South
The South African Business Council and National African Federated
Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Nafcoc) are expected to send senior
representatives to the meeting.
But Vavi has warned that Cosatu would no longer abide negotiating with
"clerks and junior officials".
Emergency meetings between the business councils resulted in Cosatu
last week agreeing not to convert its 24-hour strike into rolling mass
action and Vavi has warned that the seniority of the business
representatives at today`s meeting would go a long way to determining
how seriously business took Cosatu`s threats of more nationwide
The South African Federation is not expected to send senior
"We are convinced that Sacob seems to be quite serious about the
need to find a solution, including a call for senior political
decisions to be made between the real players," Vavi said.
Vavi said negotiations between top Cosatu officials and the Big Five
business leaders had been going on for about a year and he was
"convinced" about the businessmen`s commitment to the process.
"The breakthrough is that they recognise there`s a crisis.
"I`m confident of their personal commitment. It may be the
differences are so big it frustrates the process, but that`s natural,
particularly as we are antagonists in the economy. But its something
which we have to go through."