All aboard

Time to re­claim a sense of own­er­ship and democ­racy

Finweek English Edition - - Election 2009 - BANTU HOLOMISA

WE LIVE IN an in­cred­i­bly beau­ti­ful coun­try with mas­sive nat­u­ral and hu­man re­sources. This place we call home is spe­cial. The peo­ple who call this place home are re­mark­able and ex­cep­tional… and I mean all of us. We must never for­get that the mir­a­cle of 1994 occurred be­cause or­di­nary South Africans said: Our di­ver­sity doesn’t make us en­e­mies; we can and should share a com­mon des­tiny.

To­day we need to re­claim that sense of own­er­ship of our democ­racy. Now is the time for ALL South Africans to par­tic­i­pate in this coun­try.

SA has so much po­ten­tial, but we can­not achieve it if we aren’t all par­tic­i­pat­ing. I know that there are many South Africans who say: “We want to par­tic­i­pate but we are be­ing ex­cluded.” I’ve heard that in poor ru­ral ar­eas and in leafy mid­dle class neigh­bour­hoods.

It’s the mantra of the ex­pe­ri­enced pub­lic ser­vant who is told: “You can­not fill this va­cant post, even though no­body else is avail­able, be­cause you have the wrong skin colour.” It’s the com­plaint of suc­cess­ful school leavers and grad­u­ates ev­ery­where that they ap­ply for jobs and are told: “There are no jobs!”

This na­tion can be great – but then every­one who wants to par­tic­i­pate must be given the op­por­tu­nity to do so. Now’s the time for all South Africans!

No mat­ter who you are, at this mo­ment you’ll be con­cerned about mak­ing ends meet. The econ­omy is in de­cline and the price of ev­ery­thing is go­ing up. On an in­di­vid­ual and house­hold level it’s im­por­tant that ev­ery South African has a job, while at a na­tional level it’s im­por­tant the econ­omy is grow­ing. Un­for­tu­nately, the rul­ing party has presided over “job­less growth”.

The eco­nomic cake needs to be ex­panded. It’s no use to sim­ply give big­ger slices to a se­lect few rul­ing party mem­bers while dis­cour­ag­ing the growth of the econ­omy.

Where will a UDM gov­ern­ment find the ad­di­tional fund­ing re­quired to im­ple­ment its man­i­festo? We pro­pose that spending pri­or­i­ties need to be re­assessed in con­sul­ta­tion with all stake­hold­ers. We also be­lieve it’s pos­si­ble to cut costs by re­duc­ing the wastage caused by cor­rup­tion, end­ing the over-re­liance on con­sul­tants and stop­ping rollovers. We need to repri­ori­tise and save in or­der to ad­dress the many chal­lenges that face us.

The ba­sic phi­los­o­phy un­der­pin­ning UDM pol­icy is: Gov­ern­ment must do more. A UDM gov­ern­ment would there­fore im­ple­ment a Mar­shall Plan for SA by in­vest­ing in the econ­omy through in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ment and other large-scale, Gov­ern­ment-funded, com­mu­nity-driven pro­grammes. We need strong gov­ern­ment in­ter­ven­tion to en­sure we have func­tion­ing roads, elec­tric­ity, wa­ter ir­ri­ga­tion and retic­u­la­tion and an ef­fi­cient rail net­work, which are re­quired to en­sure eco­nomic growth.

In or­der to cre­ate jobs, South African busi­nesses must be given the space and the sup­port to grow. When the UDM says: “Gov­ern­ment must do more” we mean the ob­sta­cles and im­bal­ances that pre­vent our busi­nesses and econ­omy from grow­ing need to be ad­dressed.

One of the most im­por­tant pol­icy pri­or­i­ties for the UDM – but ne­glected by the cur­rent gov­ern­ment – is small busi­ness de­vel­op­ment. Too lit­tle at­ten­tion has been given to as­sist new en­trepreneurs and busi­nesses to en­ter the mar­ket. Sim­i­larly, too lit­tle has been done to re­duce the costs and ad­min­is­tra­tive bur­den for ex­ist­ing busi­nesses. A UDM gov­ern­ment would dra­mat­i­cally re­duce the amount of pa­per­work re­quired to start and op­er­ate a busi­ness and would pro­vide tax in­cen­tives for busi­nesses that cre­ate jobs.

A ma­jor flaw of eco­nomic pol­icy over the past 15 years has been the fail­ure of the rul- ing party to bring in­fra­struc­ture to ru­ral ar­eas and town­ships on par with that in the cities. As a re­sult, peo­ple mi­grate to the large cities – fu­elling the chronic hous­ing short­age. Mil­lions are forced to live in shacks be­cause the in­fra­struc­ture in the cities can­not keep pace with the de­mands of rapid ur­ban­i­sa­tion.

Th­ese in­for­mal set­tle­ments are breed­ing grounds for dis­ease, abuse and crime. On the other hand, the ru­ral econ­omy has im­ploded. The agri­cul­ture sec­tor – which used to feed the na­tion and con­trib­ute to eco­nomic growth – is now in se­ri­ous de­cline. A UDM gov­ern­ment would pri­ori­tise ru­ral re­vi­tal­i­sa­tion and agri­cul­ture, to cre­ate jobs, grow the econ­omy and pro­tect us from ris­ing in­ter­na­tional food prices.

A UDM gov­ern­ment would cre­ate an en­vi­ron­ment where South African man­u­fac­tur­ing ca­pac­ity and in­dus­try would flour­ish – not only by re­duc­ing bu­reau­cratic hur­dles but also with tar­geted tax in­cen­tives. We would fo­cus on the labour­in­ten­sive trad­able sec­tor, such as the tex­tiles and min­ing in­dus­tries, with a spe­cial em­pha­sis on cre­at­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for all South Africans, in­clud­ing youth, women and peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties.

Cur­rently, we ex­port most of our nat­u­ral re­sources as raw ma­te­ri­als and buy it back at huge cost in the form of fin­ished prod­ucts. A UDM gov­ern­ment would im­me­di­ately kick­start the long over­due process of stim­u­lat­ing South African in­dus­try so that SA’s min­er­als and nat­u­ral re­sources are turned into prod­ucts that can be ex­ported. We would pay spe­cific at­ten­tion to min­er­als ben­e­fi­ci­a­tion in­dus­tries, en­gi­neer­ing and man­u­fac­tur­ing.

A ma­jor con­cern for the UDM is youth em­ploy­ment. Young peo­ple are leav­ing school and ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions and can­not find jobs. We pro­pose a two-step ini­tia­tive to cre­ate jobs and wealth-cre­at­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for young South Africans: first, to fo­cus on en­tic­ing them to fill the many va­cant pub­lic ser­vice posts; sec­ond, to rad­i­cally re­duce the red tape pre­vent­ing en­trepreneur­ship, as well as tar­geted in­cen­tives and sup­port for small busi­nesses started by young peo­ple.

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