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Mandela comes under fire
PRESIDENT Nelson Mandela came under fire at the start of the Congress of SA Trade Unions congress yesterday.

President Nelson Mandela came under fire at the start of the Congress of SA Trade Unions congress yesterday when the federation leadership rejected the government's macroeconomic strategy and denied there was consensus among Nedlac parties on the Basic Conditions of Employment Bill.

Cosatu president John Gomomo said on the issue of consensus: "I do not know who informs the president [Mandela, on the issue of consensus], it is certainly not us."

Addressing more than 2 000 delegates, Mandela said that while he had serious reservations about the government's Growth, Employment and Redistribution Strategy (Gear), it was a good strategy "to drag our economy out of the mess that apartheid left us in". He voiced support for government economic policies, and particularly for Finance Minster Trevor Manuel, but called for flexibility among tripartite alliance partners, stating that macroeconomic strategy has to be measured against the objective needs of transformation and the real constraints facing South Africa. He also said that like any policy, the macroeconomic strategy is not "cast in stone".

However, Mandela warned that government will not stop the process of social and economic transformation and industrial restructuring because of narrow sectoral interests. Cosatu general secretary Sam Shilowa said at the opening of the congress that Cosatu is not considering breaking away from the tripartite alliance led by the African National Congress, but criticised the alliance, saying that policy formulation on economic restructuring and housing is in the hands of technocrats, the bureaucracy and ministries.