Take state capture seriously, some ministers urge
TAKE state capture seriously. Pay more attention to the youth. These are some of the themes that government ministers have been harping on about during the ANC policy conference.
Most of the ministers who have spoken during the Progressive Business Forum breakfast briefings have talked about how the government and the ruling party are serious about fighting corruption and are worried that the economy is in a technical recession.
Yesterday, Minister of Economic Development Ebrahim Patel said that in light of the credit downgrade by rating agencies and the technical recession, the country needed to implement a “credible growth plan”.
One of the points in the plan would be the inclusion of young people in the economy. “We need to open the economy for the rural excluded and the urban unemployed,” Patel said.
On Sunday, Small Business Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu’s talk was also themed around the topic. She said businesses run by young people should be given more opportunity and funding to succeed.
This came in the wake of the latest figures indicating that unemployment is at a 14-year high. South Africa’s unemployment in the first quarter of 2017 rose by 1.2 percentage points to 27.7%, the highest figure since September 2003.
This, according to Statistician-General Pali Lehohla, makes the plans envisioned in the National Development Plan harder to achieve. The NDP wants to cut unemployment to 14% by 2020. Of the 433 000 people who became unemployed in the first quarter of 2017, about 58% are between the ages of 15 and 34.
Patel also stressed that the efforts would be useless if the country did not have a government with integrity.
“We need to deal with state capture swiftly and honestly so we can inspire confidence with our people. We also have to grow the economy and transform it,” he said.
But political analyst Ralph Mathekga said there was a disconnect between what the party says and the policies implemented by the government.
He said the party had been deliberately weakened.
“Instead of the party controlling people in government and giving them directives, you have the other way round; you have a party that is not being informed about what is going on in government. It is becoming increasingly embarrassing.
“You have seen regarding the Mining Charter that there is a disconnect,” he said.
Mathekga said the centre of power within the ANC had moved to the government – where there was money – and was no longer in the party structures.
He added: “The ministers are genuinely frustrated. I see it as people stranded in the middle of nowhere. The normal flow of power has been disrupted and cut off. When you hear ministers speaking through the party mechanics, it is because they are not being listened to in the government.”
FRUSTRATED: Former finance minister Pravin Gordhan, left, Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel and former tourism minister Derek Hanekom at the ANC’s policy conference in Soweto yesterday.