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    Conference Papers

    Addressing Challenges of Unemployment: Is a Social Compact Possible?

    The public framing of debates in this year of the elective conference of the ANC has masked a movement abroad within South African society. Whether couched under the rubric of a New Phase of the Transition, Economic Freedom, New Growth Path, National Development Plan, Economic CODESA or Social Cohesion Summit, the core issue under discussion is the same: how do we place the country on a higher economic growth path which benefits all! We may from time to time, as a nation, be tempted to claim South African exceptionalism. But this question is not unique to us. All post-colonial societies have had at some stage to address this issue.

    While the detail of policy debates in the ‘ruling party’ is critical in understanding the broad framework of future policy direction, it is what all sectors of society commit to do that will define the dividing line between success and failure. South Africa is at a crossroads. Faced with the combined effects of pedestrian growth, deepening inequality, stubborn poverty and youth marginalisation, it can choose either to plod along the same path, or to sue for the high road.

    Contained in tomes of policy documents and programmes of government, trade unions, business and civil society are detailed ideas on how the country can move to the economic freedom which all reasonable South Africans support. These range from infrastructure development, to competitive manufacturing, astute utilisation of our natural endowments and macroeconomic policies that serve the real economy.

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