Social instability occurs as a consequence of war, civil strife or natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods and droughts. Animal diseases, including zoonoses, can be both a precursor to social instability and a result of social instability. Coping mechanisms, such as sound policies, trust in government, and robust infrastructure break down at times of civil instability. Such breakdowns often lead to a decline in both public health and the food and agricultural livestock base, thus creating a vicious cycle that involves inadequate nutrition, threatened livelihoods, and fewer opportunities for safe trade. This article is principally a discussion of a theoretical nature on the dynamics between animal diseases and social instability. Based on their experience of working for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the authors provide numerous examples of the connection between the two, mostly in countries that have fragile environments and are experiencing protracted crises. Disease has a direct and immediate effect on a community, but, in addition, if the community is not able to recover from the impact of a disease on their health and livelihoods, the consequences of an outbreak can persist even after the disease is no longer present. Stability, therefore, depends on a variety of factors, including the ability of a community to overcome the effects of a disease outbreak or other destabilising event. The FAO approach to helping families and communities to cope with the destabilizing effects of animal diseases is to build resilience, particularly amongst the most vulnerable households. This requires individuals and governments to gain a better understanding of what drives disease at the interface between human and animal health. In addition, it requires governments to invest in social protection programmes, establish a long-term risk reduction strategy that decreases vulnerability, and improve the sustainability of safe agricultural and marketing practices.
The Gear programme of the South African government has made an important contribution to macroeconomic stability in this country, and has played its part in bringing down inflation, reducing the fiscal deficit, and in setting our economy on a positive growth path -recent financial shocks notwithstanding. Gear remains an important means of achieving sustained economic growth and creating additional job opportunities. But a sound macroeconomic policy framework is only a necessary condition for achieving stability and sustained growth. Sufficient conditions include flexible labour markets and a regulatory environment conducive to capital investment and a thriving small business sector. It is within this context that the new labour laws have been brought into question. They are seen as a major threat to the economy, not only by the business community but also by several other commentators, both here and abroad. A recent voice of dissent was raised in the daily press by the Malumalele Social Movement for the Unemployed, which opposes organised labour and has come out strongly in favour of flexible labour markets: "....the unemployed has a right to decide if they want to accept low-paying jobs." There are many good reasons why the government has decided 1998 SAJE v66 (4) p453 on a strategy to reform labour markets in this country. Black males, women and the disabled are grossly under-represented at all managerial and most supervisory levels. Many of them have had only limited access to the sources of human capital, and have been at the receiving end of past policies of racial discrimination. The new labour laws are a means of redressing these imbalances. The question that arises is whether these ends justify the corresponding means. Our political landscape is strewn with good intentions, and public officials generally do not seem to care much for the economic consequences -both intended and unintended -of their actions. The new labour laws may be a case in point, and in the rest of this paper we shall focus on some of the cost-increasing effects that these laws are likely to have. The paper itself deals with four of these laws, two of which have already been passed by Parliament and duly promulgated, while the remaining two are currently making their way through the Parliamentary Committee process. Section 1 gives a synopsis of the new labour laws, while section 2 outlines some of the expected benefits to be derived from them. These should be properly weighed against the corresponding costs, and in section 3 we develop a simple model of the labour market to illustrate the cost-increasing effects that the new laws are likely to have. Section 4 looks at the implications for small and medium-sized enterprises and briefly refers to the relevant international experience.
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