South Africa’s economic recovery plan beyond the COVID-19 pandemic: a strategy to unlock her productivity potential for improved competitiveness and sustainable economic growth
South Africa’s socio-economic and industry landscape drastically changed with the advent of democracy in 1994 and introduction of policies and programmes to transform the economy and the labour market. Of significance is the impact brought about by the adoption of the Constitution of 1996; the National Industrial Policy Framework (NIPF) and successive Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP) iterations, the National Development Plan in 2014; and promulgation of the Employment Services Act, No. 4 of 2014, which established Productivity SA as a strategic labour market institution with a mandate to promote employment growth and productivity thereby contributing to South Africa’s socio-economic development and competitiveness (s31), and clarified the entity’s functions and strategic focus in section 32 of the Act read together with ss 2 (1) (e) and (g), and 7 of the Act, and s5 (d) of the UI Amendment Act, No. 10 of 2016, which provides for the financing of the retention of contributors in employment and the re-entry of contributors into the labour market and any other scheme aimed at vulnerable workers.@
Promulgation of the Employment Services Act in 2015, together with the adoption of the Presidential Jobs Summit Framework Agreement in 2018, the reconfiguration of the Department of Labour in 2019 to include employment as part of its mandate (Department of Employment and Labour), and adoption of the ILO Declaration for the Future of Work (FoW) in 2019 continue shaping South Africa’s socioeconomic and industry landscape, therefore, impacting on Productivity SA’s business environment. The interventions place the entity, which is a labour market institution in a strategic position to lead the National Productivity Driven Agenda to unlock the potential of productivity and improve the long-term competitiveness and sustainable economic growth of South Africa.
The policies and institutional arrangements introduced since 1994 made considerable strides in improving the well-being of South Africans. The economy experienced gradual growth averaging 3.3 percent since then up to about 2008. Social assistance was extended to more than 50 per cent of households and resulted in a 40 percent increase in real per capita GDP and a drop of 10 percentage points in the poverty rate. (IMF, 2016). However, in recent years, the momentum and progress has slowed considerably, and some gains have been reversed, partly due to structural challenges and weak growth following the global financial crisis of 2008‒2009 to date.