Labour minister is no reformer

Staff Writer | Jun 02, 2019
South Africa’s new labour minister is unlikely to lead the country out of its crippling unemployment crisis.

The man appointed to lead South Africa out of its crippling unemployment crisis is unlikely to succeed in the task, says the Institute of Race Relations (IRR). 

Thulas Nxesi, appointed this week as Minister of Employment and Labour, is a former trade union leader and advocate for stricter labour regulation. Mr Nxesi rose to infamy when he refused to repudiate union officials who threatened violence against school children if they did not support strike actions. 

In a forthcoming piece for the Daily Friend, John Kane-Berman writes that Nxesi ‘is hardly the man to liberalise the restrictive labour law… law whose bias in favour of unions acts as a disincentive to employers to hire workers’.  

South Africa’s unemployment rate is approximately three times higher than emerging market norms, and less than half of young people have a job. Much of the reason for such high levels of unemployment is the restrictive labour market policy environment that deters hiring and prices poor people out of work.   

IRR analysts say that South Africa needs wholesale liberalisation and deregulation of the labour policy environment. Short of this, and, with it, reforms to secure property rights in order to attract much higher levels of investment-driven growth, South Africa will not make any inroads into its unemployment crisis.   


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