Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Helen Zille accused President Jacob Zuma yesterday of bowing to pressure and stalling the implementation of the R5-billion youth wage subsidy to boost his chances of re-election.
Speaking at the Western Cape provincial legislature, Ms Zille, the province’s premier, said: "The tragedy is the president is prepared to sacrifice millions of young South African lives to get re-elected in Mangaung."
In contrast, she praised Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, saying the subsidy’s design was "perfect".
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The debate was called by the DA, to press home its demand that the province should have its share of the subsidy that Parliament had already appropriated the funds for.
The proposed subsidy was meant to have come into effect in April, but it has stalled following strong opposition by the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), which argues that the subsidy would prejudice older workers who would be let go by companies in favour of younger and cheaper employees.
Ms Zille quoted Mr Zuma’s recent reply to a parliamentary question stating that Cosatu had blocked the subsidy in negotiations at the National Economic Development and Labour Council.
She described Cosatu as the champions of "comrade capitalism", alleging that its investment relationships were more important than the alliance it had with the African National Congress (ANC) and the South African Communist Party.
ANC leader in the legislature Lynne Brown accused the DA of union bashing, saying it was continuing to play opposition politics despite being the governing party.
"The provincial government should only get its money once it does its job right," Ms Brown said.