'We've heard it all before' - Opposition reacts to Ramaphosa's economic turnaround plan

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President Cyril Ramaphosa.
President Cyril Ramaphosa.
  • The DA said President Cyril Ramaphosa's economic turnaround plans was full of "jargon, and at times turgid".
  • The official opposition also called on Ramaphosa to fire non-performing Cabinet ministers.
  • Ramaphosa delivered government's economic turnaround plan in Parliament on Thursday.

Opposition parties say President Cyril Ramaphosa's economic turnaround plan gave no clear action plan to revive the battered economy.

Critics said the biggest highlight of Ramaphosa’s speech in Parliament on Thursday, was the extension of government's special R350 Covid-19 social grant.

The DA's spokesperson on economic affairs, Geordin Hill-Lewis, said Ramaphosa's speech was not the brave commitment they had hoped for, and which South Africa needed.

"It was full of jargon, and at times turgid. Most importantly, President Ramaphosa did not close the 'credibility gap' between promised reform and absent action.

"He should have used this speech to take on the enemies of growth and reform. And he needed to show exactly how, and when, the promised reforms would be achieved. Without this detail, the President will get zero benefit of the doubt," Hill-Lewis said.

READ | Ramaphosa extends special Covid-19 grant, plans 800 000 new job opportunities

He also said non-performing Cabinet ministers should be axed.

'If South Africa's economy is to recover at all, then it is not more plans that are needed. South Africa has a surfeit of plans. The only thing that counts now is whether the needed reforms can actually be implemented in time to avoid further mass unemployment and poverty.

"The clock is already ticking. He should commit to public implementation timeframes that are set in stone," he said.

The EFF said in a statement that Ramaphosa's plan was "out of touch with reality".

"The reality faced by workers in farms, construction sites, factories; municipalities workers; poor people in the informal settlement without food, water and electricity; students that continue to suffer exclusion from institutions of higher learning because they were born poor, and unemployed youth remains without any believable and practical economic reconstruction and recovery plan," said EFF spokesperson Vuyani Pambo.

He said the R1 trillion infrastructure investment was a "pipedream".

"The only way infrastructure investment will add economic value is when government build internal capacity, appoint qualified and competent engineers, artisans and managers to manage government projects and only procure material that the government cannot produce."

ActionSA leader Herman Mashaba said Ramaphosa was yet to break free from the ideological constraints placed on him by his alliance partners.

"Despite announcements of the independent production of power, the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy has yet to finalise this process, and his Cabinet have been mindlessly delaying this process for years already.

"Despite the Minister of Finance announcing reductions in the civil service wage bill, we have continued to spend more and not less on a government serving as a cadre deployment agency," Mashaba said.

Cosatu welcomed Ramaphosa's speech, but remained concerned about the capacity of the state and the commitment of business to honouring the economic recovery plan.

READ ALSO | The top 4 economic lifelines Ramaphosa has planned for SA

Matthew Parks, Cosatu parliamentary coordinator, said: "Government needs to ensure that corruption does not enter this massive R1 trillion programme.  The private sector must come to the party decisively in releasing capital for infrastructure. Cosatu is pleased that our Eskom Social Compact has been adopted. Government, Eskom, business and society need to move with speed to implement it. Central to our economic recovery is affordable and reliable electricity."

READ | Ramaphosa's economic rescue plan: Key announcements

GOOD Party general secretary Brett Herron said key to successfully turning the economy around, would be implementation by the president and his Cabinet.

"South Africa's version of a 'new deal', with which much of the world is presently grappling, contains all the elements upon which our economy can possibly be rescued: infrastructure, energy supply and diversification, employment stimulus, industrialisation, inclusivity and localisation," he said.

Wayne Duvenage, CEO of the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA), said government needed to take the unpopular decision and reduce the bloated public sector workforce and salary bill.

"The country is losing vast amounts of talent as the tax base shrinks, due to highly skilled people leaving our shores to ply their skills in countries that value their contribution. Productivity has gone backward over the past decades and government has not kept a lid on unemployment numbers," he said.

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