Economy is not working, Patel told

Cope leader Mosioua Lekota. (Michael Hammond)
Cope leader Mosioua Lekota. (Michael Hammond)

Cape Town - Sunshine stories about the jobs created by the Department of Economic Development about the establishment of shoe factories would be useful if they helped to maintain the economic progress already made but the economy was weakening instead, Cope leader Mosioua Lekota told MPs on Tuesday.

"We must do something about sustaining that which we inherited... there are things that we (even) inherited from the unpleasant circumstances of apartheid," said Lekota. These included good infrastructure and "big business". There was an important lessons to learn: "We don't have to break it down first and rebuild it again.. unless we recognise that hard reality... we will ... take the country backwards."

Speaking in Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel's budget vote in Parliament on Tuesday, Lekota noted references to a few jobs created here and there in Patel's speech and said: "All of the activities (of job creation mentioned) would be useful and helpful if we maintained the economic progress made."

But this simply had not happened. The reality was that the gold mines had just announced that they would cut 4 000 jobs.

"As we celebrate 20 (jobs) here and 15 (jobs) there... our economy is going down. Our country is going down," said Lekota.

Lekota, a former ANC Minister of Defence, also began an attack on the formulation of the Black Economic Empowerment policy of the ruling party saying: "This BEE thing that has been done ... is not solving the (economic) problems."

He was cut short from explaining his point further as he had used up his allocated time in the debate.

Earlier Patel said that his department would focus on drawing black people into the industrial sector. He said that government funding - through such agencies like the Industrial Development Corporation - would assist entrepreneurial blacks to get a foothold in this sector.

He said tariffs would be used strategically to underpin local industry including raised tariffs on imported goods but lowered tariffs on imported goods which were used in end-products made in South Africa.

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