More cops, jobs, scorpions, tax breaks

2014-03-10 08:00

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With the elections season in full swing, Ferial Haffajee quizzed the DA’s federal chairperson, Wilmot James, about the party’s manifesto

It’s a sensible manifesto. Is ‘sensible’ good when research shows your biggest competitor is the wildly populist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) with a wildly populist manifesto?

We want to make an offer to voters that we know we can deliver on everywhere we govern.

Economist Dawie Roodt has been quoted as saying that EFF policies will destroy the South African economy in three years.

Is the manifesto unfair to President Jacob Zuma by driving a schism between his administration and those of President Nelson Mandela [lovely but ineffectual] and President Thabo Mbeki’s [managerialist but not effective in education and health]. I’d argue that President Zuma’s term has been stronger on health and education than the two previous presidents. There are other areas where the Zuma administration has been more effective too, like providing, for the first time, performance assessments, which your manifesto uses to great effect?

Yes, there are areas where progress has been made over the past five years.

It could, however, be argued that advances in health and education are driven by good provincial administrations and [in the case of health] effective national ministers.

Pressure from alliance partners has meant that the effective use of performance assessments have not cascaded down through the public service. And the Zuma administration has failed to tackle corruption and unemployment.

Since Zuma took office in 2009, another 1.4?million people have joined the ranks of the unemployed.

You promise to put 100?000 more cops on the beat. How? And is a law-and-order response the correct one for our punishing crime rates?

Our experience in the 2010 World Cup showed what a difference can be made through increased visible policing.

When we speak about increasing SAPS numbers, we are not saying that this will be a cure-all.

Economic disempowerment and social exclusion have left many South Africans without access to opportunities to improve their lives, including proper education and access to employment. This limits choices and can be a contributing factor in a decision to turn to crime.

The DA’s recent march was for decent jobs. Yet, I see more in your manifesto on job opportunities. It says, for example, that the Western Cape is a leader at making good public works. Decent jobs are well paid, permanent employment in the state or the private sector. Is this a contradiction between your activism and your manifesto?

We recognise the value of public work opportunities as a tool to alleviate poverty and a means to get people on to the first rung of the jobs ladder. We use them to great effect in the Western Cape and the City of Cape Town. But these are not enough.

When we speak about creating an additional 6 million REAL jobs by 2025, we assume consistent growth in the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) opportunities, but we emphasise the need to break down the barriers to private-sector growth and the creation of jobs in the real economy.

Several promises in the manifesto are tacit acknowledgements of a governance failure by your party. Dealing with gang violence?–?I’d argue that is a DA failure in the Western Cape. Providing shelter for a rapid, new, urban population that has migrated from other provinces. Is this fair comment?

The SA Police Service (SAPS) has the legal authority for policing in the City of Cape Town as it does in the rest of the country.

The City and provincial government has no authority over the SAPS, so we cannot give them operational orders to fight the gangs and drugs we know of in our communities. Despite this, we have formed a special gangs unit under our metro police.

On housing: Since 2009, we have delivered 119?674 housing opportunities over 16 programmes.

Yes, rapidly growing urban populations are a real challenge to governments across the country ...

You promise to train 15?000 teachers a year. How?

Research shows South Africa’s teacher-training system is producing only a third of the country’s requirement of about 25?000 teachers a year.

The 15?000 is a stretch target, but it is one we must make every effort to achieve by broadening training opportunities through building more colleges and providing bursaries.

We will actively look beyond South Africa’s borders to attract foreign skills to our educational system.

South Africa cannot have traditional export or job zones because labour laws will not allow them. Yet you promise them? How can they be made successful?

We propose strong incentives for economic activity in jobs zones through exemptions from labour legislation; tax incentives [like a five- year tax holiday followed by a flat tax; no VAT; no freight taxes; tax-free exports by foreign investors and duty-free imports].

How will your youth wage subsidy be different to the youth incentive law recently passed by Parliament?

The DA’s subsidy will provide a stronger incentive for job creation than government’s existing Employee Tax Incentive. It will allow young workers to be subsidised, ensure that entry-level jobs created in sectors with wage determinations will also qualify for the subsidy and allow for cash payouts if a company’s PAYE (Pay As You Earn) bill is depleted.

Your mining proposals see BEE stakes going largely to workers. Will there be no more Patrice Motsepes under a DA administration?

Empowerment incentives must be aimed at building a more inclusive economy. The DA’s empowerment proposals aim to discourage continuous re-empowerment by giving greater recognition for the involvement of new entrants.

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