There is need for a serious and intensive broader policy debate by social partners from business, organised labour and government about the continued relevance of the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac), a meeting of the Portfolio Committee on Labour was told on Wednesday.
This followed questions to the Department of Labour Director-General, Nkosinathi Nhleko by members of the committee after his presentation of the departmental strategic plan for the period 2012/13.
Some members of the committee said the relevance of the body had expired and it was time to close shop.
“The relevance of Nedlac cannot be determined through a strategic plan. Nedlac as an institution of social dialogue was brought about by prevailing circumstances at the dawn of our democracy. As to whether the country still needs it cannot be answered by one partner to the exclusion of others,’’ Nhleko said.
“It will help to remember that this debate is not unique to South Africa. Many countries still grapple with the question of a social parliament. While some have abandoned it, others have kept it,’’ the Director-General said.
He said such a debate should be able to answer why some people think Nedlac does not address developmental goals meant to boost South Africa’s economic goals.
Alistair Smith, Nedlac executive director, said the debate should focus on repositioning the institution rather than disbanding it.
“Factors that impact on Nedlac’s performance include the commitment by partners to social dialogue, tensions among partners as well as the capacity of the institution,’’ Smith said.
He said the solution lay in social partners agreeing on the rules of engagement in the interest of accountability.