Guest Column

Ramaphosa train stuck on ANC tracks

2019-03-07 05:00
President Cyril Ramaphosa at the Thohoyandou stadium during the ANC rally. Picture: Tebogo Letsie/City Press

President Cyril Ramaphosa at the Thohoyandou stadium during the ANC rally. Picture: Tebogo Letsie/City Press

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The whole country is on hold while the ANC's civil war plays out. We don't have time for this, writes Mmusi Maimane.

We need to move South Africa into a post-liberation movement era. This is an incredible country with massive potential. With innovative and future-focused reforms, it could deliver widespread opportunity and prosperity.

This week, StatsSA reported that South Africa's economy grew by only 0.8% in 2018. South Africa's population grew by 1.2% during that time, which means the country continued its backward slide.

Furthermore, Gross Fixed capital formation (investment) decreased for the fourth quarter in a row. Continued withdrawal of investment from the SA economy indicates that the ANC's investment summit, like their jobs summit, was a fruitless exercise.

Across Africa, liberation movements have failed the basic test of economic management and the ANC is no different. The general tendency is to blame external factors. But the reality is that South Africa is falling behind our competitors because our economy is concentrated and uncompetitive.

South Africa has long forgotten that we need to compete for business with everyone else in the world. The only way to stop us falling further and further behind is to implement radical structural reforms that reflect global realities. 

The DA has a plan to do just that. Most critically, a DA national government would split Eskom to enable more competition in the energy market, as per the DA's "cheaper energy" bill (ISMO Bill).

We'd enable municipalities to purchase power directly from producers. The DA-run Western Cape provincial government has taken the national government to court to compel them to enable the province to purchase power directly from independent producers. We will not be held hostage by Eskom's dwindling capacity and spiralling costs.

We'd immediately put SAA into business rescue and sell or shut down other non-strategic SOEs. It is sheer insanity that we are still pouring scarce resources into these bottomless pits. 

A DA national government would reduce South Africa's fiscal deficit by cutting the thousands of cadre deployment positions within the public sector (including SOEs) that give sheltered employment to cronies who add no value to our society.

We would kickstart investment by, among other actions: guaranteeing private property rights and rejecting expropriation without compensation; overhauling our visa, exchange control and labour policies to attract skills, capital and tourists; exempting small businesses from certain labour and BEE regulations; and scrapping the Mining Charter and rewriting the MPRDA.

By making it a requirement for ballots to be held before strike action, amongst other measures, we will stop labour unions from damaging the economy and ensure they protect the real interests of their members rather than their own elites.

The DA would cut the Cabinet to 15 ministries. There are currently eight ministries that deal with the economy, leading to an uncoordinated, silo approach.

But none of this is in the pipeline. There is just too much resistance to these within the ANC and its support base. As political analyst, Ralph Mathekga pointed out this week: "No matter at what speed the Ramaphosa train travels, it will still have to move along the tracks laid down by the party."

And Ramaphosa is too busy trying to get his fellow politicians into prison. The whole country is on hold while the ANC's civil war plays out. We don't have time for this. We should be focusing on what we need to do to fix our economy.

For those who still believe Ramaphosa is able to resolve South Africa's deep-rooted problems, 0.8% growth and ongoing disinvestment surely cause for scepticism. Bear in mind that in November 2017, Ramaphosa himself set a target of 3% growth in 2018.

This continued slide in average per capita income, as well as the ANC's continued penchant for socialism (as per their recent support for Nicolas Maduro's oppressive socialist regime in Venezuela), are bright red flags, signalling a False Dawn.

If anything, far from introducing policies to unlock growth, 2018 saw a shift in policy towards greater state intervention in the economy.

Policies such as the National Minimum Wage (which, though low, is 80% of South Africa's median income), National Health Insurance, the (badly named) Protection of Investment Act and expropriation without compensation will all have the effect of deterring investment.

The World Bank has made it clear that without a radical shift in policy towards freeing up the economy, South Africa's unemployment will remain unnaturally high over the next decade (above 25% for narrow unemployment) and the number of people stuck in poverty will continue to grow.

With the right reforms, we can put SA on a growth trajectory of 5-8%, in line with Botswana, Rwanda and Ethiopia. But that requires bold change. And since bold change will clearly not come from the ANC, it needs to come from the electorate.

On 8 May, South Africans face a choice between the corrupt, backward-looking ANC and the honest, future-focused DA. The DA can deliver to the whole country what we have delivered in the Western Cape, where we've created 508 000 sustainable jobs in the past decade, and where broad unemployment (23%) is 14 percentage points lower than the national average (37%). 

The DA's election manifesto is a roadmap to economic growth of 5-8%. It is packed with doable, workable action steps to get our beautiful country delivering a life of opportunity to all. On 8 May, a vote for the DA will be a vote to grow the economy and build One South Africa for All. 

- Maimane is leader of the DA.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. 

Read more on:    ramaphosa  |  cyril  |  mmusi maimane  |  gdp growth
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