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Shopsteward Volume 27: Special Bulletin

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Media Centre  |  COSATU Speeches

Address by Willie Madisha, COSATU President, at the historic launch of Proudly South African Campaign

Address by Willie Madisha, COSATU President, at the historic launch of Proudly South African Campaign

4 October 2001

The campaign was launched in concept about three years ago when organised labour approached business, community organisations and government in the preparation for the Presidential Job Summit. We asked for a joint commitment by all parties to promote the p urchase of goods and services from our own country.

We saw this as a critical means of creating jobs locally, and providing hope for millions of the unemployed. We can no longer question the fact that the unemployment rate has been rising since 1994 , and more than a million formal jobs were lost since 1990 .

This very demand , i.e. of investing in our country, came about because our society has liberalized its trade regime, from 1994 . As our borders opened, much of the lack of investment in social infrastructure , economic infrastructure , human resources and work methods resulted in large tracts of industry disappearing.

The buy local campaign was a means of securing a patriotic premium , i.e. a commitment by local consumers to support job creating through power they exercise in consumer markets.

Worldwide , the evidence shows that growth on the basis of meeting domestic needs is critical as the basis for developing strong exports and attracting substantial Foreign investments. The buy local campaign has been undertaken in many countries at times o f either national crisis or when there was a critical need to develop a common vision and a common purpose . Japan did it when Japanese industry focused on conquering world markets after the damage of the Second World War. The United States did it when fac ed with a challenge of increased imports in its economy and a fast growing population. India did it when government needed to respond to the challenge of providing employment to hundreds of millions of people.

For us the buy local campaign can create hundreds of thousands of jobs. It can offer hope to the clothing industry, which on the one hand is an industry which has a fashion and skills base that can be turned to significant advantage , and on the other hand is an industry that is faced with significant job losses. Our fashion industry is top class, and we should all be "wearing local".

It can provide jobs in the chemical industry, in the food sector and in many other sectors . It can highlight the world famous fruit juices or our land. The warm wool of our farms. The brilliant diamonds from our soil.

It is also a campaign that can make us proud of what we produce, and of the services we offer. In the United Kingdom today, music is one of the most significant exports, creating jobs in the UK, and earning Foreign exchange . Indeed, British music, we are told, is a bigger exporter than British motorcars. What about South African music ?

The proudly South Africa campaign is founded on the principles agreed at the Presidential Job Summit. They are:- Local purchasing Fair labour standards Commitment to quality Environmentally sustainable production

The proudly South Africa campaign can therefore have two important objectives. First, by altering consumer buying practices, it can create jobs locally. Second , by identifying the number of locally made, quality goods and services available, it can instil l a deep pride in our people as a nation that we can produce the best in the world. In this way, this campaign is our form of sustainable development. Next year, South Africa hosts the World Summit on Sustainable Development. What is sustainable developmen t ?

It is development that ensures equitable growth of decent jobs in every country in the global economy, that ensures a living wage for workers and environmentally sustainable practices that will enable future generations to have access to energy , mineral r esources, and other natural resources of which we are the guardians. Sustainable development is about ensuring that we satisfy the needs of our people, and that we do it in a socially, economically and physically sustainable way.

The proudly South Africa campaign can use the Summit next year as a significant opportunity to showcase the best of local fashion, local innovation and local production.

Organised labour is proud to be associated with the proudly South Africa campaign , and we will utilise our resources to make this campaign a success. We will ensure that every notice board in every workplace is used as notice board for the campaign. We wi ll ensure that every shop steward becomes an advocate of the campaign. We will ensure that our pamphlets and union newspapers carry the campaign prominently. We will draw up lists of local goods and services that meet the criteria of the campaign.

We will support efforts to raise productivity and quality of our outputs, above all by encouraging skills development. We however must caution that workers should not be expected to make unnecessary sacrifices. Workers and management must work together to grow the economy. We will also incorporate the proudly South Africa campaign in our proposals on industrial strategy and Sector Job summits.

There are some products that we will not be able to produce economically, given economies of scale, or licensing restrictions. Our campaign will take that into account.

There are some products that we successfully export at the moment and we utilise the export credits that are earned thereon to balance product range, in the technology intensive car industry. We are creating jobs with the export of large quantities of Golf s, BMW's and Mercedes Benz C-class vehicles and utilizing some of the permits to bring in other ranges of motor vehicles. Our campaign will take this into account.

There are some sophisticated technology that we need to import precisely in order to produce consumer goods that are labour intensive. Our campaign will take this into account.

In short , our campaign will be a very practical one, directed at maximizing the employment locally in the most labour intensive sectors of the economy , while mindful of the fact that we need to maintain product innovation and constant technology innovati on and upgrading.

This campaign will showcase the very many success stories of our new nation. The quality products we make, the product innovation we are responsible for, the modern production methods we use, the fair labour practices we pursue.

On its own, this campaign can play an important role, but is not sufficient to tackle the major challenge of unemployment. It needs to be complemented with a commitment by all South Africans to maximize local investment, and to that end, I call on Providen t Funds, and the Trustees of Provident Funds , and the investment managers of Provident Funds to actively invest locally and to invest in the real economy, namely in factories , in mines and on our Farms. If we do that, we can build a society of full emplo yment, with decent work for all, and a strong voice for democratic freedom and social equity in the global economy.

Finally , we call on all South Africans systematically to support the Proudly South African campaign.

A critical step to that end is the inclusion of the campaign's aims in the procurement by Government, Parastatals, Business and the Retail Sector. The campaign should not be a slogan only for household consumers.

We were horrified for example to learn recently that Telkom decided to import copper wire from Korea , at the cost of hundreds of thousands of jobs. Surely our local suppliers , and if necessary to ensure they compete.

The long-term cost to our country is otherwise unacceptably high.

We also call on Government and business to contribute in the development of local Skills. This will contribute to a permanent solution for our country.

Good Luck Proudly South Africa Campaign. Please succeed.

I thank you