Time to reclaim a sense of ownership and democracy
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.