Pro-poor policies must be weighed against sustainable interventions
THE SUCCESSFUL TRANSITION from an apartheid regime to our first democratically elected Government was met with great optimism. Expectations of prosperity and opportunity lifted the spirits of South Africans who had suffered under apartheid. Those sentiments were further enhanced by the plans and promises made by our new leaders in Government.
We’re now into our second decade of democracy and that optimism has all but disappeared. Service delivery has been poor and great disparities still exist, most notably between the urban and rural areas. While the IFP does agree there have been many achievements, there have also been glaring failures – most notably, the lack of success in dealing with crime, poverty eradication, education, job creation and HIV/Aids. The dismal economic outlook will now make it so much more difficult to deliver on promises and to improve the lives of the many who are still suffering.
South Africa is a country characterised by great disparity. Within our borders we have affluent areas with facilities comparable to the best that the developed nations have to offer; while there are also places where abject poverty, hunger and despair are still prominent. That’s an untenable situation and if we’re to progress and prosper then those great divides must be eliminated. For that to happen we must achieve a higher economic growth rate as well as bring the poor and rural areas into the mainstream of society.
The world is in the midst of a devastating economic crisis, and while the developing and emerging nations weren’t directly involved in the manoeuvrings that led to this perilous situation, its effects are being harshly felt by all. That might seem unjust, but it does serve to underscore the extent of the integration of the global economy. The decisions we make and the policies we formulate and implement must take this into consideration. We must also realise our decisions and actions are being closely watched and will have consequences for our development.
However, we must not let this economic stagnation hide the fact that we could have done more during times of prosperity and that while our growth targets and rates were positive, they were not high enough to adequately address the many problems that we’re faced with.
Among other things, we weren’t creating enough jobs to meet the demands of a growing population. The fact of the matter is that over the long term SA needs to be growing at around 8%/year if it’s to stand alongside the emerging giants. While we do understand growth by itself cannot solve all our problems, it does give policymakers the tools to grapple more effectively with a wide range of social and economic policies. An increased growth rate can be achieved by: That should be done via a variety of measures, most important of which are better educational outputs. We should
also access the global market for skilled workers and entrepreneurs and ensure they transfer their skills and knowledge to locals. changing our labour laws to make it easier for small businesses to create new jobs. finance institutions and giving small businesses easier access to capital. liberalising and expanding the ICT sector. promotes beneficiation and manufactured exports. encouraging foreign direct investment. Too many people are still trapped in debilitating poverty. The IFP believes that’s one of the biggest failures of our Govern-
ment since the advent of democracy. Neither the levels of economic growth nor the various measures that Government has taken to date have been sufficient to free the poor from poverty.
While we do endorse the widespread provision of a variety of grants, that needs to be balanced against long-term sustainable interventions that encourage self-sufficiency. We propose the following solutions: the improvement and maintenance of roads, water and sanitation, electricity and telecommunications. including increased benefits and a basic income grant. distribution. from exploitation.
self-reliance. formal and informal education for the poor, especially those in rural areas. given increased powers to deal with poverty alleviation. The development and efficient implementation of the right policies are undoubtedly needed to improve the social and economic conditions of South Africans. But that alone is not enough. There also needs to be a true commitment and dedication, as well as a change in attitude when dealing with our social and economic issues. It’s also vital the poor and those in rural areas aren’t ignored and also enjoy the benefits and opportunities afforded to the more affluent and well-connected people.