'It can't be business as usual, economic privilege must be addressed' - Jackson Mthembu on social justice

2019-08-29 14:10
Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu and former public protector Professor Thuli Madonsela (Kamva Somdyala, News24).

Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu and former public protector Professor Thuli Madonsela (Kamva Somdyala, News24).

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In order to accelerate the task of overcoming poverty, inequality and unemployment, new ideas need to come to the fore and "it cannot be business as usual".

This is according to Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu, who gave the keynote address at the inaugural Social Justice Summit hosted by Stellenbosch University's law department and chaired by Professor Thuli Madonsela.

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The summit's speakers include economists, activists, members of the law fraternity and health practitioners. 

Helen Zille, Busisiwe Mavuso, FW de Klerk, Professor Jonathan Jansen and others were also on the programme to speak during various panel sessions later on Thursday.

"There are persistent challenges we face, which need our collective wisdom to overcome, and as government, we welcome the summit and its focus," said Mthembu during his address.

"Economic privilege must be addressed. A transformative regime in the economy is necessary."

The summit "aims to unpack the nature of social justice in South Africa, its various dimensions, the pathways available to address social injustice and to leverage opportunities presented by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), the National Development Plan (NDP) and the Constitution".

Social justice

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Mthembu said that at the heart of the social injustice, was the fact that South Africa faced stagnant economic growth.

He said there was a need to question the issues which obstructed growth. He was at pains to point out South Africa's high unemployment rate.

"Things need to be done differently," he conceded, adding that Finance Minister Tito Mboweni's new document - which calls for a series of "deliberate and concerted actions" to raise SA's GDP growth rate by up to 3% per year - may well be the "difference" required.

On Tuesday, National Treasury released a paper which claimed to provide a "detailed examination of the structural reforms that can reverse the downward trend in South Africa’s growth potential and competitiveness". 

Mthembu said it was an "innovative strategy, which requires the inputs of people".

"Inclusion must be a top priority in the economy. Not only that, it must be transformed and it must grow, and the minister of finance's call is for everyone to contribute and to make a contribution to take the country forward." 

The summit continues.

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