The democratic election of 1994 opened a new era for South Africa. It was the decisive step in the transition to democracy. Now our country must meet the challenges of social development and economic growth.
- South Africa is a land rich in resources, with a strong and diversified economy. It has a people eager to make democracy work. It has a well-developed physical and financial infrastructure, such as transport, telecommunications and the banking system.
- South Africa is also characterised by severe inequality in incomes, skills, economic power, ownership and a skewed pattern of social development. This, together with large-scale unemployment and inadequate economic performance, has created major problems in our society.
- Government, organised labour, organised business and community-based organisations need to develop and strengthen cooperative mechanisms to address the challenges facing our new democracy. Our three defining challenges are:
- Sustainable economic growth – to facilitate wealth creation as a means of financing social programmes; as a spur to attracting investment; and as the key way of absorbing many more people into well-paying jobs.
- Greater social equity – both at the workplace and in the communities – to ensure that the large-scale inequalities are adequately addressed, and that society provides, at least, for all the basic needs of its people.
- Increased participation – by all major stakeholders in economic decision-making at national, company and shopfloor level to foster cooperation in the production of wealth and its equitable distribution.
- Meeting these challenges is critical to the success of the Reconstruction and Development Programme.
- The National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) is the vehicle by which Government, labour, business and community organisations will seek to cooperate, through problem-solving and negotiation, on economic, labour and development issues and related challenges facing the country.
- Nedlac will conduct its work in four broad areas, covering:
- Public finance and monetary policy;
- Labour market policy;
- Trade and industrial policy; and
- Development policy.
Nedlac is established in law through the National Economic Development and Labour Council Act, No. 35 of 1994, and will operate in terms of its own constitution.