n South African Journal of Labour Relations - African Renaissance - implications for labour relations in Africa




The African Renaissance project is an indigenous initiative to modernise the continent's economies and build and sustain systems of governance based on the will and identity of its peoples. At a political level the vision is carried through NEPAD - the New Partnership for African Development. Weaknesses in civil society have eroded the foundations necessary to build sustainable democracies across Africa. Labour relations systems emerge within the engine rooms of national economies. They are the product of strategic choices made by states, and business and organised labour (as actors in civil society) over time as they seek to protect and further their interests in their interaction with each other and in relation to changing environments. Across Africa labour systems are characterised by historically weak and unstable states, poor levels of economic development with small private sectors, and undernourished trade union movements. In short, the parties are weak and the conditions in which they must make their choices are often hostile. Nevertheless it is argued here that their choices are the key to an African Renaissance. Social actors do not simply respond to their environments but help shape them. In Africa the weakness of the parties does not imply that there are others with greater capacity; nor does it imply any reduction in a broader social responsibility for choices and their consequences. This article explores the idea of an African renaissance, outlines the purpose and workings of NEPAD, and considers strategic choice options for actors in labour relations systems at levels of social policy making, and sectoral and enterprise engagement if they are to place the African Renaissance explicitly on their agendas.


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