Land redistribution must go beyond populism - Jonas

2017-08-24 19:12
Former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas. (Gallo Images)

Former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas. (Gallo Images)

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Cape Town – Land redistribution must be a product of inclusive growth and not a response to populist calls for expropriation without compensation, former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas said on Thursday.

Direct redistribution of assets, such as land, could improve economic growth, but only if done inclusively and without scaring off investors, he said at an African Leadership Forum in Johannesburg. Former president Thabo Mbeki hosted the event.

Land expropriation was an easy way for populists to appeal to dissatisfied and excluded citizens, he said.

Asset and land redistribution would only work with increased investment. If it resulted in a decline in investment and investor confidence, it adversely affected both the rich and the poor.

If inequality was reduced this way, levels of poverty would likely increase as a result of rising unemployment.

He said inclusive growth could both expand the fiscus and make assets available to the wider public. Growth in itself would not reduce inequality on its own, as the trickle-down economics of the last three decades had only widened inequality.

The economy had to be transformed through a combination of good fiscal redistribution, like social grants programmes, and quality public education, which he described as the real winner.

An inter-continental programme of inclusive industrial development was needed.

"We cannot continue with over-dependence of commodity trade and the swings of commodity prices in Africa."

State capacity had to be strengthened, as a discredited government had no hope of growing the economy.

In South Africa, corruption and state capture were eroding the state’s credibility, he said.

"Without building credible leadership, both in the industrial and state sectors, we can't grow."

Jonas said a recent survey had shown that although almost every country in Africa holds regular elections, only 40% of Africans believe the results were free and fair.

Only 25% of people trusted their electoral commissions, he said.

The country had to pay particular attention to the marginalisation of the youth and increasing gender conflict in society.

Earlier, Mbeki said Africa's leaders could do more to avoid unnecessary deaths on the continent.

He called on the Southern African Development Community to act in the "worrying situation” in the Democratic Republic of Congo, to avoid more killing.

Read more: Situation in DRC 'worrying', SADC must act - Mbeki

Read more on:    thabo mbeki  |  mcebisi jonas

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