DA leader Mmusi Maimane put the blame for the current recession at the feet of the ANC during a National Assembly debate on Wednesday evening, while the ANC said he had presented no new ideas to grow the economy.
Maimane had called for the debate following Stats SA’s announcement last week that the country had fallen into a technical recession after the economy contracted by 0.7% in the second quarter of the year, following a revised 2.6% contraction in the first quarter.
The DA leader argued that the ruling party was wed to policies which continued to support ailing state-owned enterprises at the expense of growing the economy.
“We face a choice of a world placed before us by the ANC and one placed before us by the DA. In the ANC’s world, we are still in a pre-1990s reality. The Berlin Wall is still up, state owned entities - no matter how poorly run - are the answer and the people are not trusted with property rights to own land,” said Maimane.
Maimane said ANC policies such as National Health Insurance and nationalising the SA Reserve Bank would further harm South Africa's already struggling economy.
He said government should cut parastatals loose, split Eskom up, cut Cabinet in half and exempt small and medium enterprises from what he called arbitrary labour laws.
“Stop blaming a ten-year-old global financial crisis and stop blaming (former President Jacob) Zuma,” Maimane said.
Minister of Finance and ANC member Nhlanhla Nene said Maimane had not presented any new ideas to jump-start the South African economy.
Nene said one of the major challenges SA faces is low investment. Government was focusing on restoring policy certainty, making consumers and investors feel confident enough to spend and invest, and create an enabling environment for growth, he said.
The finance minister said the ANC-led government was also tackling ailing state-owned enterprises
"Government has prioritised efforts to turnaround Eskom by installing a credible board and a management team," he said. To boost the growth rate, he said the government was making it easier for tourists to get Visas, was making spectrum available to reduce the cost of communications, and was instituting governance changes at SOEs, among other measures.
He said steps to restore policy certainty in the mining sector would also soon be announced, but did not provide a date.
Deputy minister of finance Mondli Gungubele called the DA opportunists for presenting the debate with no new ideas and slammed the Economic Freedom Fighters for deriding the DA’s policies after it handed the opposition party three metros in the 2016 local government elections.
Economic Freedom Fighters MP Sam Matiase said while the DA’s economic agenda was to leave South Africans at the mercy of foreign and white capital, the ANC could not deny that it presided over a struggling economy and SA was one of the most unequal societies in the world.
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