SA needs an economic indaba

2011-10-24 14:06
Cape Town - Political liberation has not translated into economic freedom for millions of South Africans living in poverty, UDM leader Bantu Holomisa said on Monday.

In an open letter to President Jacob Zuma, he called for a national economic indaba to tackle unemployment, job creation and low economic growth.

Economic reforms since 1994 had benefited only big corporations, Holomisa said.

"[They] siphoned money out of the economy to list in foreign stock exchanges without any prospect of the funds ever returning to the South African economy," the United Democratic Movement leader wrote.

"It is time for representatives of all the stakeholders to converge under one roof and establish if the time has not come to conclude the other part of Codesa which never received much attention; that is, economic freedom."

Codesa, the Convention for a Democratic SA, which took place in 1991 and 1992, consisted of talks that led to the establishment of a multi-party negotiating forum and the end of apartheid.

South Africans ‘suspicious and mistrustful’

Holomisa's call came a day ahead of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan's 2011 Medium Term Budget Policy Statement, which some forecasters predict will result in a lowering of the country's GDP growth forecast.

Holomisa said South Africans were "suspicious and mistrustful" of the government's actions, owing to perceptions that it was not equitably distributing the country's resources.

"Since 1994, there has been no consensus among South Africans about the macro-economic policy, which can transform the economy in a manner which could create and spread wealth wider and improve the well-being of the disadvantaged communities."

Holomisa said the harsh reality was that country was suffering from "a chronic official unemployment rate of 25.7%, which stands at 45% when using the expanded definition".

Further, economic growth was too low to absorb new entrants into the labour market and the prospects of reversing this "dismal trend" appeared far-fetched under the prevailing macro-economic economic policy.

"The gains of political liberation have not translated into real economic freedom for all. The attainment of real freedom can only be realised through massive socio-economic delivery," Holomisa said.

Several economic policies

Since 1994, there had been calls from various institutions to review the country's macro-economic policies.

"The ruling party has touted various economic policies - first it was RDP, then Gear, then Asgisa, and now the New Growth Path (NGP) - which is being piloted by [Economic Development] Minister [Ebrahim] Patel.

"However, none of these have translated into tangible benefits for the majority of the citizens."

In order to avoid a move towards a second revolution, "we ought to go back and finish what we started in the Codesa negotiations", Holomisa said.

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