How can we save SA?

Of­fers the coun­try’s cur­rent lead­er­ship some ad­vice on how to steady the course and re­store growth

CityPress - - Voices -

lead­er­ship. We must ac­cept re­spon­si­bil­ity for fail­ing to pro­vide lead­er­ship and im­ple­ment pro­grammes that ac­tively pro­mote mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism. We are South Africans with di­verse cul­tures. We have the same needs, de­sires and wishes for our­selves and our chil­dren. We are one na­tion.

At­tack­ing di­ver­sity will only en­hance the cur­rent lev­els of divi­sion among peo­ple. The cur­rent cli­mate of cul­tural and political in­tol­er­ance be­tween pop­u­la­tion groups and power groups will weaken our na­tion fur­ther, as is al­ready vis­i­ble in our poor per­for­mances on sport fields, in board­rooms and in Par­lia­ment. We must treat our dif­fer­ences with dig­nity and al­low de­bate. There is dig­nity in our dif­fer­ences. In a mul­ti­cul­tural so­ci­ety, there will al­ways be dif­fer­ences of opin­ion. That in it­self is not de­struc­tive if our ob­jec­tive is to en­gage and to ed­u­cate. We need to see and hear that we are a united na­tion.

Our lead­ers must re­mem­ber it is not govern­ment’s role to cre­ate growth; it is the do­main of the pri­vate sec­tor. Govern­ment’s role is to cre­ate the en­vi­ron­ment for the pri­vate sec­tor to thrive and cre­ate sus­tain­able jobs in sup­port of sus­tain­able com­mu­ni­ties. It is a sym­bio­sis for all eco­nomic par­tic­i­pants to meet their ob­jec­tives. The cur­rent prac­tice of con­tin­u­ously chang­ing the rules of the game while it is be­ing played is coun­ter­pro­duc­tive. We want a clear game plan, firm poli­cies and govern­ment’s com­mit­ment to the plan – then we can all play for the ben­e­fit of the na­tion.

We should be grate­ful for wealthy peo­ple – they main­tain and cre­ate jobs when they spend money and build their busi­nesses. They care about growth and de­vel­op­ment. They take risks to in­vest in our econ­omy, our peo­ple and our chil­dren through the taxes they pay.

At present, the en­emy of the poor and eco­nomic growth is not the rich or in­ter­na­tional in­vestors. It is our lead­ers, govern­ment and teach­ers who pitch up drunk at schools – if they even bother to come – and, ul­ti­mately, all of us paral­ysed by in­de­ci­sion and ca­reer-driven cor­rect­ness.

To move for­ward, we must train the next gen­er­a­tion of skilled work­ers col­lec­tively, mak­ing it at­trac­tive for South Africans who can help us to de­velop skills and build the coun­try, but in­stead they are be­ing lost to em­i­gra­tion (those leav­ing are not only white).

The pri­vate sec­tor must be sup­ported and in­cen­tivised to cre­ate fur­ther op­por­tu­ni­ties for learn­ing and skills de­vel­op­ment, other than through the use of ex­pen­sive ter­tiary re­sources. No South African with skills can be ig­nored. Ev­ery­body must have an equal chance to be ap­pointed to a job. His­tor­i­cally, job reser­va­tion was prac­tised with dis­as­trous eco­nomic con­se­quences. Why are we re­peat­ing those mis­takes?

What should we do not to to­tally lose mo­men­tum? I call on Na­tional Trea­sury to present a bal­anced bud­get that is a true re­flec­tion of the state of the econ­omy. Mak­ing empty prom­ises now and re­vers­ing them in the medi­umterm bud­get pol­icy state­ment af­ter the lo­cal govern­ment elec­tions will only speed up the clas­si­fi­ca­tion of our sov­er­eign bonds as junk by in­ter­na­tional rat­ings agen­cies.

Be hon­est with the na­tion, es­pe­cially about the econ­omy and the like­li­hood of hard­ship. Pre­pare the na­tion to re­spond to the hard­ship by set­ting an ex­am­ple of dis­ci­pline and fru­gal­ity.

Phosa is an at­tor­ney and for­mer trea­surer of the ANC. This is an edited ex­tract from a re­cent speech ti­tled The Fu­ture of

Mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism in SA to the FW de Klerk Foun­da­tion

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