SADC must speed up policy development, says minister

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Cape Town - Southern African countries must move with more speed in developing its social and economic policies which is the only sustainable way to reduce poverty.

Speaking at the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Employment and Labour Sector meeting in Cape Town on Monday, Minister of Labour Membathisi Mdladlana said SADC member states must move "with speed" in developing and implementing the Decent Work Country Programmes.

"This is one of the most practical approaches to attacking poverty and underdevelopment. Employment and labour market performance must be at the centre of these policies and it is only us who have the ability to ensure that this happens."

Mr Mdladlana said the current global economic crisis, characterised by recession in some countries and slow growth rates in others, presented the region with an opportunity to reflect on the path it had travelled so far, especially in looking closely at its economic interventions.

"Our region is not immune from these challenges as we have increasingly become part of the global world."

Minister Mdladlana said the region was faced with the effects of increased debt burden which was forcing it to spend more on servicing debt, accompanied by the unfavourable and further deteriorating terms of trade.

"Difficult as these conditions might be, we should however, continue to strive to achieve the goals we set ourselves as SADC member states," said the minister.

He said that the SADC region had an agreement that committed member states to eradicating poverty, but lacked the commitment to implement it. "We cannot say with certainty say what progress we have achieved. We have hardly as SADC reviewed the progress we have achieved thus far."

This called for the strengthening of the institutional capacity of SADC.

"Since we have been continually monitoring the impact of our legislation and its programmes in South Africa, we have learnt that at times the problems do not necessarily lie with the laws we put in place, but rather with the weakness of the institutions tasked with implementing these legislations and policies."