Bal­anced growth

Pro-poor poli­cies must be weighed against sus­tain­able in­ter­ven­tions

Finweek English Edition - - Election 2009 - MAN­GO­SUTHU BUTHELEZI

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.

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