No economic freedom for our people - Cope

2015-04-27 17:17
(File, Yunus Mohamed)

(File, Yunus Mohamed)

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Johannesburg - While South Africa attained its political freedom 21 years ago, it still had not attained economic freedom, the Congress of the People said on Monday.

"Cope is deeply saddened that we are still very far from obtaining that freedom for all our citizens," leader Mosiuoa Lekota said in a statement.

"Economic freedom is the cornerstone of real freedom. President [Nelson] Mandela reminded us that there was no such a thing as 'being partly free'. We were either free or not so."

The plight of millions struggling to survive economically was even more saddening.

"That is why Cope is urging government to ensure that brown bread is priced 20% to 30% lower than white bread. Our people must have bread and basic foods on the table," Lekota said.

However, the road ahead looked bleak, as unemployment remained unresolved while poverty and inequality were deepening. Service delivery was deteriorating while administered prices rose.

"People take to the streets in increasing numbers to protest violently. Race relations have worsened and xenophobia destroyed our good image in the world. African countries are becoming estranged from us," Lekota said.

"Corruption is the vilest manifestation of our failures. It is robbing the poor and destroying our dream of economic freedom. Corruption grows worse and with corruption social cohesion becomes impossible to achieve."

Deliver on promises

He said the ruling party, the African National Congress, came into power with the promise of a "better life for all".

"It must keep its trust with the people and deliver on its promise," Lekota, a former ANC national executive committee member, minister and Free State premier, said.

"In spite of unemployment and having to defer their hopes endlessly, the majority of South Africans came out in their thousands to condemn the senseless and barbaric xenophobic attacks on our African brothers and sisters.

“The country has isolated the violent minority. Our challenge is to reclaim our respect in Africa and the world. Our further challenge is to create employment and stimulate the economy."

Private sector growth

Cope urged government to work closely with the private sector, so that needed economic growth would take place and improve socio-economic conditions in South Africa.

"We must grow the role of the private sector, not diminish that role further," he said.

Government had to take note of the rising discontentment with the youth of the country, since without realistic prospects of jobs, they would become strident in their demands for reform.

"We are sitting on a ticking time bomb. We are very apprehensive. Torpor and apathy on the part of the self-absorbed ruling party will trigger an explosion," Lekota said.

Read more on:    cope  |  johannesburg

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