Rad­i­cal eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion es­sen­tial to all

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION&ANALYSIS - Paul Mashatile

THE NEED for rad­i­cal eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion has be­come top­i­cal in the re­cent past and the de­bates that pre­ceded the re­cently-held ANC Na­tional Pol­icy Con­fer­ence and be­yond has given im­pe­tus to the need to, as a na­tion, agree not only on how best we grow our coun­try’s econ­omy, but also how we en­sure that all South Africans play an ac­tive role in the main­stream of our econ­omy.

It is also ur­gent to find cre­ative ways of how our peo­ple, es­pe­cially those who have hith­erto been ex­cluded and kept on the eco­nomic pe­riph­ery, are brought into the main­stream.

The cur­rent pub­lic dis­course on rad­i­cal eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion can only be use­ful if it steers away from be­ing fix­ated on def­i­ni­tions, polemics and rhetoric. Rather it must fo­cus on de­vel­op­ing prac­ti­cal strate­gies and plans on how we change the lives of our peo­ple for the bet­ter.

Hence the ANC in Gaut­eng at its last con­fer­ence has taken a view to drive and pro­mote eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion that will change the own­er­ship pat­terns of the com­mand­ing heights of our econ­omy, whilst bring­ing es­pe­cially black peo­ple into the main­stream of our econ­omy.

Un­sus­tain­able

We are of the view that, in­deed, our econ­omy has not changed sig­nif­i­cantly, twenty three years af­ter the break­through that ush­ered in free­dom and democ­racy in our coun­try. This un­for­tu­nate sit­u­a­tion is un­sus­tain­able and needs to be at­tended to, es­pe­cially given that the in­equal­ity gap is grow­ing rather than clos­ing.

Clearly, we are sit­ting on a tick­ing time bomb and un­less we do some­thing as a na­tion, it might ex­plode and the con­se­quences are too dire to con­tem­plate.

A plan that tack­les the triple chal­lenges of poverty, un­em­ploy­ment and in­equal­ity has to be im­ple­mented with­out fur­ther de­lay if we are to turn the sit­u­a­tion around.

The first step, there­fore, is to all ac­cept that eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion is es­sen­tial as this will open new vis­tas for all peo­ple to play a mean­ing­ful role in our econ­omy.

The most im­me­di­ate task if we are to rad­i­cally trans­form our econ­omy is to pro­vide con­sis­tent sup­port to black en­trepreneurs and in­dus­tri­al­ists. Gone are the days where a mi­nor­ity will be eco­nom­i­cally ac­tive whilst the ma­jor­ity are kept on the pe­riph­ery.

Our coun­try can­not also con­tinue on a tra­jec­tory of be­ing a net im­porter of goods whilst ex­port­ing raw ma­te­ri­als. We, there­fore, need to take prac­ti­cal steps to triple the lev­els of ben­e­fi­ci­a­tion of our min­eral re­sources.

It is against this back­drop that the Gaut­eng Pro­vin­cial Gov­ern­ment adopted a ten-point plan that re­sponds to our per­sis­tent chal­lenges of poverty, job­less­ness and in­equal­ity.

This plan, called the trans­for­ma­tion, rein­dus­tri­al­i­sa­tion and mod­erni­sa­tion (TMR) aims at, among others, chang­ing the own­er­ship pat­terns of the Gaut­eng econ­omy, bring­ing the marginalised into the eco­nomic main­stream, pro­vid­ing sup­port for small and emerg­ing busi­nesses, trans­form­ing the pub­lic ser­vice and rad­i­cally chang­ing Gaut­eng’s spa­tial land­scape.

Cap­i­tal in­vest­ments

It is through the TMR that rad­i­cal trans­for­ma­tion would take place as our pro­vin­cial econ­omy will see mas­sive cap­i­tal in­vest­ments in so­cial and eco­nomic in­fra­struc­ture like mega hu­man set­tle­ments, trans­port in­fra­struc­ture in­clud­ing the ex­pan­sion of Gau­train and devel­op­ment of aerotropo­lis.

We will also pro­vide bet­ter fi­nan­cial and other sup­port to black busi­nesses, in­clud­ing in­dus­tri­al­ists, to en­sure that Gaut­eng re-es­tab­lishes its man­u­fac­tur­ing ca­pac­ity. Our fund­ing agen­cies are be­ing re­struc­tured to en­sure that they are more re­spon­sive to black busi­nesses’ needs as fi­nance is one of the ma­jor im­ped­i­ments to busi­ness growth, es­pe­cially for black en­trepreneurs and in­dus­tri­al­ists.

Our town­ship econ­omy is also get­ting a shot in the arm as busi­nesses in those ar­eas are be­ing sup­ported and the gov­ern­ment is procur­ing more and more goods and ser­vices from town­ship-based en­ter­prises.

We are also cut­ting red tape as ease of do­ing busi­ness is an in­cen­tive to in­vestors and in this re­gard the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment has be­gun to in­ter­act with mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in Gaut­eng to im­prove their ap­pli­ca­tions’ turn-around times.

I be­lieve that rad­i­cal eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion should be de­fined by how it changes our coun­try’s eco­nomic land­scape to en­sure that those who have been his­tor­i­cally ex­cluded are brought into the main­stream, as this will go a long way in re­dress­ing the eco­nomic wrongs of the past.

The con­ver­sa­tion must talk to how we should trans­form the com­mand­ing heights of our econ­omy as stud­ies in­di­cate that black South Africans hold at least 23 per­cent (38 per­cent if in­ter­na­tional hold­ing is ex­cluded) of Top 100 com­pa­nies listed on the JSE and this is mostly through their re­tire­ment sav­ings.

It is also dis­con­cert­ing that the lead­er­ship com­plex­ion of these com­pa­nies do not re­flect the de­mo­graph­ics of our coun­try and it is es­sen­tial that this ugly pic­ture changes.

These are some of the key ar­eas that need ur­gent at­ten­tion. Oth­er­wise the push for trans­for­ma­tion will be­come a mi­rage. Paul Mashatile is the chair­per­son of ANC Gaut­eng.

PHOTO: SUP­PLIED

Paul Mashatile is help­ing to pave the way. He also ex­plains the need for eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion in South Africa and how we have to en­sure that all South Africans play an ac­tive role in the main­stream of our econ­omy in this ar­ti­cle.

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