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DA: Statement by Ian Ollis, Democratic Alliance Shadow Deputy Minister of Labour, on calls for labour broking to be banned (03/02/2010)

3rd March 2010

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In a remarkable attempt to rewrite history, Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana's spokesperson Mzobanzi Jikazana has now attempted to claim that Minister Mdladlana never called for labour broking to be banned.

Mr. Jikazana is being quoted as saying in this morning's press: "Despite what the media may say, the minister has never once used the word ‘ban'. He has only said that he wants to ‘deal with' the issue of labour brokers, and if necessary will change laws to do that."

What nonsense! Is this the same Mr. Mdladlana who said that the ANC would "ban labour brokers after it wins next year's election... A vote for the ANC means exactly that." ("We plan to ban labour brokers says minister" The Sowetan 8 December 2008)

That was pretty unequivocal, but in case anyone was uncertain what position Mr. Mdladlana has taken on this issue, since that election he has repeatedly called for labour brokers to be "banned" and "stamped out" because they are apparently "a criminal activity", "abusive", "human traffickers" and "against the Constitution".

In fact, even Mzobanzi Jikazana himself said not too long ago, in response to a DA study, that his minister "reiterated his determination to stamp out abusive workplace tendencies attributed to labour brokers. [Mdladlana] says the labour broking tendency is against the law no matter who practices it, be it a public or a private sector."

Remarkably, Jikazana has also misled the media on the very existence of the Bill in question. The Director General at the Department of Labour (DoL), Jimmy Manyi said on 15 February 2010 in the Labour Portfolio Committee that the draft Labour Relations Act, which will affect labour broking, has already been signed by him the previous day, and given to the Minister for tabling in Parliament. Yet now Jikazana says that the DoL is still waiting for the parliamentary Labour Committee to respond to the public hearings. If this was in fact the case, then there would be no Bill to speak off; the reality is that the DoL has instead drafted the Bill without reference to the public hearings.

Quite clearly the Department of Labour has been boxed into a corner by Minister Mdladlana's ridiculously over-the-top rhetoric on the issue of labour brokers. Banning labour brokers would put about half a million South Africans out of work, and hopefully these attempts at backtracking are signs that the Zuma administration is waking up to the truly devastating effects that a ban on this industry would have for employment in South African. Nonetheless, it is staggering to see that the minister would now try to deny the undeniable, and claim that he was never in favour of a ban in the first place. He should admit he got it wrong, that the DA and Cope got it right, and move on.

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