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You are here: Home Media Desk Speeches 2018 Official opening speech by the Deputy Minister of Labour, honourable Nkosi Phathekile Holomisa (ah! Dilizintaba) MP, on the occasion of the second meeting of the BRICS Employment working group Zimbali holiday resort, Kwa-Dukuza
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Official opening speech by the Deputy Minister of Labour, honourable Nkosi Phathekile Holomisa (ah! Dilizintaba) MP, on the occasion of the second meeting of the BRICS Employment working group Zimbali holiday resort, Kwa-Dukuza

by lloyd last modified 2018-07-30 15:40

30 July 2018

Programme Director,

Honourable Mayor of Kwa–Dukuza Municipally, Mr Njabulo Ricardo

Mthembu,

Leaders of delegations and delegates from all BRICS Member Countries,

Representatives of the SADC Troika, Swaziland and Namibia,

Representatives from Business and Labour,

Distinguished Guests and Resource Persons,

Senior Government Officials here present,

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is a great privilege for me to welcome you, on behalf of the Government and the people of South Africa, to this 2nd Meeting of the BRICS Employment Working Group. Programme Director the choice of location is an inspired one, as we welcome you to our beautiful province of KwaZulu-Natal for the next three days, starting today until Wednesday 1st August 2018.

I am aware that most delegates will stay for the whole week to also attend the Ministerial Meeting, which takes place on Thursday and Friday.

I am particularly honoured to once again welcome those of you who were present in the first meeting in Mbombela, Mpumalanga, in the beginning of

May – I recognise a few faces from where I am standing. I see new faces as well. I hope that you are here because your compatriots spoke highly about the hospitality and unmatched beauty of our country and her people. I assure all of you of an exciting and industrious week ahead.

Without deviating from the business of the day, I feel compelled to boast about the fact that the Russian Federation hosted a successful football spectacle that ended a few weeks ago. In recent years, the FIFA World Cup has become more like the centre of the universe, where people of different nations converge to enjoy the sport. Significantly, the tournament presents an opportunity for the hosts to allay fears, negate perceptions and dispel myths, perpetuated mostly by ignorant and/or malicious detractors, about our countries.

It is notable that the three consecutive tournaments starting in 2010 have taken place in the BRICS countries. As to be expected, our countries have

outdone themselves by showing to the world that they are as capable aseverybody else, if not better. This goes on to show that the prominence of

BRICS goes beyond politics and economics, as we continue to influence the different aspects of social life.

Russia did not disappoint in this regard. Spasibo! (Thank you!)

We would also like to extend our sincerest gratitude to all the Member Countries and Heads of State/ Government for attending the Tenth BRICS Summit last week. The Summit was an important milestone as it marked the

first decade of BRICS summits.

South Africa is proud of the honour to be currently leading this partnership of

powerful nations, who continue to play their important role in shaping global

political order.

Dear distinguished delegates, a question that is often posed concerns the relevance of the BRICS formation in the bigger scheme of things. Quite often we are asked to elucidate on how BRICS contributes to or impacts positively on the lives of our citizens. We also have to contend with the perception that our formation is seen as merely a talk shop, or a rendezvous amongst friends.

Unfortunately, these concerns cannot simply be dismissed or wished away as noise-making – we need to respond in a simple and understandable fashion. The only way to do this is through the work that is performed by the various streams that exist to contribute to the overall programme of BRICS, that of socio-economic development.

From the onset, we view the formation of BRICS as a catalyst that is poised to lead the global village to new economic heights. We must not let those hopes fade. Even with the economic struggles that confront us, we must still find innovative ways to forge closer ties in economics, trade, and other human endavours.

Together our countries represent not less than 3 billion people, or 42 percent of the global population. This implies that we have a mammoth task in our hands.

 

Programme Director, we are making baby steps towards becoming a true global force that must be reckoned with. In this regard, intra-BRICS trade has grown from U$D 567 billion in 2010 to U$D 744 billion in 2017. Similarly, figures for our country indicate that the South Africa-BRIC trade follows this upward trajectory.

South African trade with fellow BRICS states has grown from U$D 28 billion

to U$D 35bn in the last seven years. Also, in 2016 South Africa attracted 6.2

percent of intra-BRICS investment, at R34,5 billion, mainly from India and

China. On the other hand, South Africa’s outward investments to other BRICS countries, mainly Brazil and China, was valued at R22.6 billion.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, our considered opinion is that BRICS countries are important developers of technology, a fact which sometimes manifests itself in investment. Our investment drive as a country, therefore, seeks to contribute to the creation and development of hi-tech industries, as well as to move South Africa towards a knowledge economy.

Our BRICS Presidency this year offers South Africa a great opportunity for collaboration with fellow Member Countries on the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Hence, our theme for 2018 is “BRICS in Africa: Developing

Countries for Inclusive Growth and Shared Prosperity in the New Industrial Revolution”.

Utilising different platforms and interventions, we continue to share and exchange views on regulations and policies to shape markets. These include learning best practices from other BRICS members in order to ensure that our societies can effectively participate in the Digital Industrial Revolution.

As developing countries, we still aspire to create a global environment that is capable of facilitating effective participation of all countries so as to ensure all that cooperation amongst states, whether in trade and commerce or politics, is commensurate with the needs of their economic development.

It is, therefore, our goal to see BRICS Member States continuing to advocate for an inclusive global economic system that promotes inclusive growth, integration of developing countries in the global economy and sustainable development.

Hence all our efforts should be geared towards the attainment of the United Nations Agenda 2030 on Sustainable Development.

Ladies and Gentlemen, for our part, as the Labour and Employment track within BRICS, there is a need to conduct a serious introspection on whether what we do adds value or not.

In our country, for example, we seem to be unable to tame the raging bull, which is unmanageable high levels of unemployment, especially amongst youths. This problem seems pervasive in all our countries, which means we

have our work cut out for us as labour market practitioners.

For our Presidency, we identified four priorities, namely: (i)Youth

Employment, (ii) Gender - Equal Pay for Work of Equal Value, (iii) Social

Dialogue, Tripartism and Collective Bargaining, as well as (iv) Social

Protection. These areas of focus seek to expand or enhance the previous commitments that were made since the Ufa meeting in 2015.

I, therefore, hope that the work of this collective this week, and any other time in future, will visibly show progress made in our efforts to enhance cooperation amongst our countries in labour and social security issues.

A quick glimpse on the work developed in the First Meeting in May indicates that there is some level of commitment to share knowledge and implement joint programmes on matters of labour and employment, social security and social inclusion public policies.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the legacy that we would like to engrave, therefore, during our Presidency is that of ensuring that the work is coordinated and duly reported on. Although we always state our priorities and pronounce on commitments, there are no clear signs that there are substantive programmes that we are working on that are carried over from one Presidency to the next, though I do hasten to admit that there are a few exceptions to this observation.

The following points sum up what the South African Presidency desires for the BRICS Labour and Employment track, namely:

First, we would like to see the operationalisation of the BRICS Network of Labour Research Institutes initiative. This will not only facilitate sharing of information but will also strengthen our research capacity in matters of labour market governance.

Second, it appears that the Labour and Employment track only gets to deliberate on matters of common interest during the statutory meetings, and that nothing seems to be happening in-between and/or after these meetings.

As South Africa, we have put forward a proposal to create specialised working groups that will focus on the different areas of labour market governance, such as public employment services and employment generation, labour inspections, collective bargaining and social security. The idea is that we can learn from each other, and also assist fellow Member Countries. This is, of course, not a standalone process but will seek to contribute to all our cooperation arrangements at bilateral and multilateral levels.

It is envisaged that the work of these working groups will feed into both the

Employment Working Group and the Labour and Employment Ministers Meetings. In this way, experts in various areas will have an opportunity for in-depth discussions and also share or compare notes on the best practices in their respective jurisdictions.

Third, we wish to reiterate that the Labour and Employment track is linked with other work streams such as finance, education, economic development and trade, as well as science, technology and innovation. Besides the meeting in Russia, these linkages have been ominously overlooked. We, therefore, wish that there be joint meetings convened between the programmes of this track and those of other relevant streams constituting the BRICS framework.

The issues above will hopefully shape the discussions this week. It is our sincere wish to see more concrete projects coming out of the Labour and Employment track. Otherwise, BRICS will be labelled a talk-shop that delivers no tangible benefits to our citizens.

As we mark yet another milestone on the fourth BRICS Labour and Employment Ministers’ Meeting this week, we hope that as the sector we can take stock and review progress. I urge delegates to ensure that the work programme to be presented to the Ministers will show not only decisiveness but also our readiness to deliver concrete results.

To conclude, I wish you fruitful and progressive discussions and hope that this EWG Meeting will generate excellent recommendations for consideration by the Ministers later in the week.

Please enjoy our beautiful KwaZulu-Natal, the Kingdom of the Zulu!

I thank you.


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