South African Labor Laws Discourage Hiring, AngloGold CEO Says

South Africa’s labor laws, high training costs and a lack of skills are discouraging companies from hiring, AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Mark Cutifani said.

“As we look at all the things the government does to make the country competitive and attractive to new investment, we cannot forget to look at the things that create competitive disadvantages,” Cutifani said in a column published in Johannesburg’s Sunday Times newspaper today.

“We need only to look at the inflexible labor market which acts as a disincentive to the employment of new labor market entrants. Employers and unions need to find a better balance between fair employment practices and the flexibility that is needed to encourage employment.”

The World Economic Forum’s 2011-2012 Global Competitiveness Report ranked South Africa 139th out of 142 countries in terms of the competitiveness of its hiring and firing practices, just behind France and Sweden and ahead of Portugal. It was 138th in flexibility in determining wages, just after Sweden, and 127th, after Mali, in the quality of its primary education system.

South Africa’s 25.2 percent unemployment rate is the highest among more than 60 countries monitored by Bloomberg. The government has pledged to create 5 million jobs by 2020.

“South Africa needs to develop a clear, consistent and investor-friendly policy framework to create the right conditions for business, investment and growth,” Cutifani wrote. “We need a combined and coordinated effort by all role-players. We need to rise above our narrow ideological positions and come together to design a new future.”

AngloGold is Africa’s biggest gold producer.

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