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Fixing the economy will go a long way toward fixing South Africa, says the writer. (iStock)
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We need a government which says what it means and does what it says, and not a government that speaks with a forked tongue where our economic policy is framed by who they are addressing, writes Herman Mashaba
Every day, 11 million South Africans wake up and face
a life without the dignity of work.
They are unable to improve the lives of their
families, or offer their children a brighter future than they grew up with.
These South Africans are promised by unscrupulous
politicians, election after election, that they will benefit from millions of
The jobs never materialise, but the promises keep
Every economic indicator in our country is pointing in
the direction that suggests we are heading towards a collapse that will make
Zimbabwe look like a picnic.
This is why I am seized by the work of The People’s
Launched in December 2019, it has already achieved a level of
conversation that has exceeded my wildest expectations. Millions of people are
being engaged, and pouring their hearts and souls into their submissions on how
we can fix our country.
This coming week, I am going to be starting the second phase
of the dialogue. It is going to shift to a focused weekly discussion on the
particular issues that South Africans, of all backgrounds, have raised with the
It should come as no surprise that first on our agenda
next week, will be to discuss solutions to growing our economy and creating
jobs. It is a complex topic and requires serious consideration, given the
implications if we do not fix our economy.
When I consider our economy, these are the issues that
are front of my mind:
We have an unhealthy relationship between government
and unions, arising from the tripartite alliance.
In other countries this
relationship is conducted at arm’s length, as with all other key interest
Here, in South Africa, our government is terrified to upset the unions
for fear of losing their support ahead of the next election.
So, when the
difficult decisions need to be made, like with our ailing State-Owned Entities,
a Minister of Finance will announce strong action and Luthuli House will squash
This is an issue that very few are paying attention to, and the South
African people have no say about. This has to change.
Our economic confusion has to be next on the agenda.
If anyone can tell me what our country’s economic strategy is, please let me
How investors and prospective business people are supposed to invest in
our country with any level of certainty is beyond me.
I suppose this is why
they aren’t investing or opening new businesses.
We need a government which says
what it means and does what it says, and not a government that speaks with a
forked tongue where our economic policy is framed by who they are addressing.
Is our education system producing the kind of school
leavers that are equipped for the job market or tertiary education? I am afraid
Education has become about massaging the numbers, ignoring the drop outs
between grade 1 and grade 12, or the deliberate de-registering of failing
students to be part-time to flatter the pass rate.
This is something which
should make us weep, not celebrate.
What has been done to small businesses in South Africa
In growing economies around the world, small businesses employ
upwards of half of all working people.
In South Africa, small business receives
no support and are subjected to bureaucratic red-tape that throttles their
potential. Our young people are not being trained and educated about starting a
small business, and the potential of our South African people is being held
back by our government.
The labour laws of our country require debate.
easy for those with the dignity of employment to resist this discussion, but
such resistance takes place at the expense of those without work.
In every fast-growing
economy around the world, labour laws are less restrictive than ours in South
Africa. Prospective employers are not afraid, in these countries, to give
someone a chance, a chance that people are not getting in South Africa. It is
worth thinking about.
Our State-Owned Entities are a drain on our fiscus.
For a growing economy, these entities need to be making profits with our public
money. They are given an opportunity to take public money and grow it through
efficient, effective and functioning companies. In tough economic times, we
cannot afford to be constantly bailing-out the financial black holes of the
SABC, ESKOM, SAA and the likes.
Developing a professional civil service has to be
central to growing our economy.
For decades people have been employed in the
civil service not because of what they know, but because of who they know.
dictate of cadre deployment has been that people must be loyal to the party
before they are loyal to the country.
No country can grow its economy as long
as this is the case. We need the best of the best to serve in government to
create a skilled, capable and effective civil service.
These and so many more questions lie ahead of us next
week in The People’s Dialogue. I am calling on all South Africans to
engage in this conversation, and to share their ideas on how we can grow our
economy and create jobs.
If you are like me, and you love our country and its
people, join the conversation to build a growing economy that creates jobs.
- Mashaba is founder of The People's Dialogue, an entrepreneur and the former executive mayor of the City of Johannesburg.
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.
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