It is evident to all South Africans, who care to notice, that we have been experiencing an unprecedented decline in employment since the inception of our democracy in 1994. The underlying problem with this unemployment phenomenon is hard to pin onto one variable, which ranges between economic development, excessive labour cost combined with unrealistic demands compared to the rest of the developing world, as well as the development of effective job creation policies by government. An unfortunate concoction of these variables has merely remained short of a labour disaster in South Africa.
The universal economic growth model of the developed world requires the expansion of business towards job creation, with innovation and competition at its forefront. It has been proven in history time and again that an expansive economy require these success factors, which inevitably leads to progressive prosperity. The governance of equality and justice in the workplace is justified to ensure that the working class can actively participate and be rewarded in this expansive model. But this is where the South African model leaves the track. The organised labour structures in South Africa adds absolutely no responsible value but is eager to regularly destroy it and hold the economy of this country to ransom. South Africa is the only country in the world where the industrial strike action season is more predictable than the weather itself. It has become a culture rather than an attempt at constructive engagement which might see the prosperous sustainability of South Africa. Instead of serving the working class in their struggle to develop workable solutions to the unemployment situation in South African, organised labour has resorted to pity party politics and the continued power struggles which have characterised the South African political landscape during the last few decades, ironically driving the working class towards its economic demise.
There exists an opportunity in South Africa with a limited window, which when implemented can add enormous value to job creation, individual purchase power as well as the extended economic wellbeing of the holistic economy. Unfortunately this opportunity consists of breaking barriers of ignorance and dissonance with a long held prejudice which was incidentally also conceived as a result of the deception misdirected at the working class. This misdirection was aimed at the cannabis plant which was already by then culturally entrenched among many African cultures. In 1923 the South African government argued to the League of Nations Advisory Committee on Traffic in Opium and Dangerous Drugs that the inauspicious productivity levels of the African labour force in the mining sector were as a direct consequence of cannabis usage. The consequence was that the cannabis plant and all its associated products were prohibited with the commencement of the massively successful and protracted prohibition campaign. This action suppressed the potential exploration of the recreational market and tourism concomitant to it, the hemp materials market which could have assisted the economically unempowered with cost effective building, textile, plastics and painting materials, as well as the game changing potential of carbon neutral hemp bio-fuel to name a few. All of this enormous job creation potential was set aside and ignored for decades as a direct result of the institutionalised deception related to cannabis prohibition.
The centre of gravity which makes up the political environment in South Africa lies within the working class and their individual labour unions. The working class can choose to navigate South Africa towards the abandonment of this outdated legislation, although leadership is required to do this. The current organised labour in South African is in the perfect position to demand the long overdue legalisation of dagga in this country, which will assist enormously in job creation as well as the continued inflation pressures experienced in the last few years. The farming industry will have the potential to recover to its former glory, employing many thousands of additional farm workers in the dagga industry. These products will be supplied to newly created industries in the private and public sectors, stimulating employment in tourism, entertainment, textile, material and bio-fuel markets. South Africa can rid itself from the massively expensive imports of depleting oil resources, creating an industry which in turn can directly combat unemployment.
To add to this scenario, the policing and correctional services resources spent on theunconstitutional prohibition campaign can assist enormously in combating other crimes and further the stimulation of the security and protection of our fragile society.
The question begs, will the organised labour leadership in South Africa continue to beat the worn-out-no result-drum by prioritising pity party politics above the prosperity of the working class, or will we see some dynamic leadership steering us towards success, irrespective of the political landscape. Let us unite as a nation in seeking out these opportunities and developing the true potential of this country. Let us triumph over long held prejudices and the continued persecution of the working class and their economic freedom which is based on colonially inherited legislation. Let’s pressurise government for the legalisation of dagga now, so we can benefit all South Africans!
Written by Johan Steynvaart