New mood will help economy – ANC

2018-01-28 06:00

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The ANC plans to break the 1.5% barrier to the country’s economic growth and push it up to 2%, with job creation as the primary focus.

The party has ramped up support for land expropriation without compensation but is set to impose strict conditions for the beneficiaries to use the land for farming. It wants to make food security a priority.

These were among the decisions the party took at its national executive committee lekgotla last weekend.

Another was that unused public land in urban areas, belonging to state-owned entities like Transnet, should be set aside for housing and industrialisation.

In order to achieve its objectives, the ANC intended to lobby businesses to partner with it to “radically transform” the economy – a policy position the ANC adopted at its December national elective conference.

Party deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte said there was a new mood among various players and a willingness to work with the ANC.

Duarte said reindustrialisation was the answer to the job creation plans and business had to reinvest in the economy, instead of holding on to assets and profits.

“I think a partnership with business is vital,” she said on Friday.

“There seems to be a new mood of hope and a new mood of ‘yes we can and yes we will’. We are hoping that this will be sustained and will continue to grow.”

The bulk of discussions at the lekgotla focused on getting the gross domestic product growth rate to 2%.

Up to 27% of the country’s active adult population is unemployed and turning that around needed all hands on deck, she said.

Duarte said municipalities were crammed with staff, as a result of trying to absorb people into the labour market.

Even though this might be undesirable, government could not simply turn a blind eye to people starving. But government could not be the only employer, she said.

Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti presented the much-awaited land audit report at the lekgotla.

It confirmed suspicions that the bulk of South Africa’s land was in private hands, Duarte said.

“Unfortunately that’s a reality. It’s not true that government owns tracts and tracts of land.

"But despite it being private or public, land is lying fallow and therefore the big question is whether we have to introduce the concept of land redistribution without compensation for productive use.”

Duarte said this must be done cautiously, so as not to undermine the economy or food production or food security.

She said farmers throughout the country had abandoned much agricultural land and those who got land ended up selling it back to the previous owners.

“We flew over the Eastern Cape and the sad reality is that you only see small pockets of land being cultivated and large areas where nothing is moving.

"It would be different if you saw a herd of cattle or sheep, but it’s not like that.”

One could not simply make such a decision without giving emerging and current farmers support.

As a result, government would prioritise the agricultural needs of those who got their land back.

This included providing them with tractors, seed and infrastructure.

Duarte said imposing the condition that expropriated land had to be used for farming might not go down well with beneficiaries, but it had to be done.

Read more on:    anc  |  jessie duarte  |  economy

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