South Africa is fixing itself by addressing corruption and maladministration.
This was the reassurance from President Cyril Ramaphosa, who addressed the national Freedom Day event in Bloemfontein.
Speaking in Sesotho, the President told the throngs gathered at Dr Petrus Molemela stadium in the Free State that the monies that have been stolen from government will be paid back in order to build a better future for the country.
To loud cheer, the President said corruption at State-owned enterprises was also being dealt with.
The fight against corruption has continued to dominate the national conversation in South Africa in the wake of allegations of State capture and corruption scandals in the private sector. Government has committed that anti-corruption efforts within the State will be more effectively coordinated and all forms of corruption must be exposed and prosecuted.
National Minimum Wage
President Ramaphosa used the platform to talk about the National Minimum Wage (NMW), which is aimed at improving the conditions of the working poor.
The NMW Bill and supporting Basic Conditions of Employment and Labour Relations Bills are currently before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Labour for consideration.
The bill proposes, among other things, that the National Minimum Wage level be set at R20 per hour and be reviewed annually. However, the minimum wages for domestic and farm workers will initially be set at R15 and R18 an hour respectively.
Several thousand union members marched in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and other cities on Wednesday to voice their opposition to the R20 an hour minimum wage, which they have called “starvation wages”.
The President sees the minimum wage — which was meant to be introduced on 1 May but has been delayed — as an important first step to tackle labour instability and wage inequality.
President Ramaphosa said the bill is a great victory for the workers of the country and is a tribute to the social partners who worked so hard to make it a reality.
“Some people have argued that the starting minimum wage of R20 an hour is not a living wage. They are correct. Some argue that the National Minimum Wage will not end income inequality. They too are correct.”
However, the President said the National Minimum Wage does provide a firm and unassailable foundation – which is agreed to by all social partners – from which to advance the struggle for a living wage.
“We must remember that the introduction of the National Minimum Wage will increase the income of over six million working South Africans. A wage increase of that size and extent is unprecedented in our history, and we must celebrate it.”
He said the National Minimum Wage is like a great hill “we have climbed, but we dare not linger, because there are still many more hills to climb”.
With regards to land, President Ramaphosa said economic freedom means that the land that was taken from black South Africans needs to be returned.
He committed to accelerating the redistribution of land, both in urban and rural areas, to ensure that poor South Africans are able to own land and have the means to work it.
He said government will land expropriation without compensation where it is necessary and justified.
“We call on all South Africans to be part of the broad process of consultation on how we should implement this decision in a way that makes redistribution meaningful and which contributes to a stronger economy, greater agricultural production and improved food security.”
The move is aimed at extending property rights to all South Africans.
This article was originally published on SANews.gov.za