29/05/2008 15:48 - (SA)
Johannesburg - The government must accept blame for the crisis of violent xenophobic attacks experienced in the country recently, the Congress of SA Trade Unions said on Wednesday.
"Had the government decisively intervened some ten years ago when it became clear that the Zimbabwe situation was deteriorating, the Zimbabweans would not find it necessary to leave their country.
"Cosatu and others warned a long time ago that the political and economic meltdown in Zimbabwe...(would) eventually force everyone to leave the country and be economic refugees (to) everyone in South Africa," Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi told a press briefing following a Cosatu central executive committee meeting.
"Our government did the usual denialism and refused to act."
However, the main reason for the unrest was the "appalling levels of unemployment in the country" and this was blamed on government economic policies.
"It is a failure of our country to restructure the economy and have an industrial strategy as well as genuine and agrarian reform that has brought us to this point. That is the issue."
Cosatu also discussed Eskom's proposed tariff hike and rising food prices at its meeting.
Vavi said the union federation remains adamantly opposed to Eskom's 53% tariff hike.
The union federation said it would resort to industrial action should the proposed hike be approved.
"Our section 77 process however remains in place and we have yet to see any movement from Eskom and government to persuade us to abandon our campaign to defend jobs and prevent the poor consumers to pay the price for the mistakes and mismanagement by government and Eskom," Vavi said.