Ramaphosa calls on South Africans to debate proposed national minimum wage

Research has found that nearly 50% of working South Africans live below the proposed figure.

FILE: Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: GCIS

JOHANNESBURG – Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on South Africans and various sectors to debate the proposed national minimum wage in order for the policy to be implemented soon.

A panel of advisors has proposed a figure of R3,500 as a starting level, which would be reviewed annually once the legislation is passed.

Research has found that nearly 50% of working South Africans live below the proposed figure.

There is also a suggested timeline for the implementation of the national minimum wage, set to finally come into effect by 1 July 2019.

Ramaphosa says while there needs to be debate around the proposed figure it cannot be too high as this could have negative employment effects.

“The key question that all of us need to ask ourselves as South Africans is, where do you want to peg the national minimum wage, because it’s a contradiction? You may want a high figure of 20,000 but you may wipe out a lot of jobs.”

Research has also considered that there is a gendered nature of poverty in the country where women earn the lowest and are mainly among the poorest.

While there are arguments that such a policy intervention should ideally take place when the economy is strong, it's been argued that some intervention is needed to protect the most vulnerable.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)