Re­vers­ing the ex­treme in­equal­i­ties

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

More car­toons on­line at Jessie Duarte is deputy sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the ANC

THE ANC is the only party in South Africa com­mit­ted to – and which has the ca­pac­ity to – ef­fect real so­ci­etal change through eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion.

The strug­gle con­tin­ues to be one that aims to fun­da­men­tally re­verse the ex­treme in­equal­i­ties gen­er­ated and fos­tered by the apartheid gov­ern­ment.

This means em­pow­er­ing black peo­ple, es­pe­cially Africans, elim­i­nat­ing poverty, gen­er­at­ing jobs or job op­por­tu­ni­ties and con­tin­u­ing to ad­vo­cate and leg­is­late for a liv­ing wage to try and en­sure a more bal­anced eco­nomic land­scape in South Africa than what is cur­rently the case.

We have a long way to go and the ANC is not blind to the chal­lenges the coun­try faces and that change is not an overnight process, but the recog­ni­tion of a longer road that needs to be trav­elled.

Gains made so far have been in the ar­eas of ba­sic ser­vices and in macroe­co­nomic sta­bil­i­sa­tion, but real eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion is a long way from be­ing re­alised.

One area of par­tic­u­lar con­cern has been the slow pace at which land own­er­ship has been tak­ing place.

The issue of land own­er­ship is cen­tral to the de­vel­op­ment of South Africa’s democ­racy and part of any econ­omy is the own­er­ship of pro­duc­tive assets. The process of al­lo­cat­ing re­dis­tributed land to its right­ful own­ers has taken too long.

One of the most fun­da­men­tal his­toric in­jus­tices is the sys­tem­atic dis­pos­ses­sion of our peo­ple’s land. The chal­lenges of poverty, in­equal­ity and un­em­ploy­ment have their roots in the vast tracts of land that were stolen from the in­dige­nous peo­ple of South Africa. The speed of land re­form and lev­els of sup­port for emerg­ing farm­ers must be rad­i­cally ac­cel­er­ated.

Dis­putes over land own­er­ship have pro­longed cer­tain set­tle­ments and have made the issue even more chal­leng­ing, but the ANC is more than con­fi­dent that the gov­ern­ment will see to it that all al­lo­cated land will be put to pro­duc­tive use.

The ANC is de­ter­mined to fol­low through on the ideals of what the party’s man­date has al­ways been: jus­tice on all fronts for all the peo­ple of South Africa.

As a de­vel­op­men­tal state, eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion will re­quire a range of pol­icy op­tions with a fierce com­mit­ment to so­cial jus­tice.

The ba­sic eco­nomic pol­icy of the ANC is based on the prin­ci­ples and tenets of the Free­dom Char­ter.

The party opted for a mixed econ­omy which would har­ness the role of the state, pri­vate sec­tor, co-op­er­a­tives, small and medium en­ter­prises and the in­for­mal sec­tor in shap­ing the growth of the econ­omy.

There­fore broader par­tic­i­pa­tion in the econ­omy in every as­pect should be en­cour­aged and chan­nelled so as to ben­e­fit us all.

The goals set out by the Na­tional De­vel­op­ment Plan is re­liant on all sec­tors of the econ­omy – pub­lic, pri­vate as well as or­gan­ised labour, to work in part­ner­ship.

As one of our Jan­uary 8 state­ments pointed out: “The coun­try re­quires an ac­tivist, in­ter­ven­tion­ist and ca­pa­ble state that takes de­ci­sive action to ef­fect rad­i­cal eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion.”

It is the ANCs as­ser­tion that the coun­try needs a pri­vate sec­tor that acts in the na­tional in­ter­est and con­trib­utes to the at­tain­ment of the na­tional goals of erad­i­cat­ing poverty, un­em­ploy­ment and in­equal­ity.

It is im­per­a­tive that the lev­els of co-oper­a­tion between the gov­ern­ment and business be im­proved. It is equally im­por­tant that the lev­els of co-oper­a­tion and part­ner­ship between labour, gov­ern­ment, civil so­ci­ety and the pri­vate sec­tor are im­proved and re­vised, given fu­ture chal­lenges and op­por­tu­ni­ties. This re­quires con­sis­tent di­a­logue that re­sults in pos­i­tive action.

Go­ing for­ward, we must en­ter into a so­cial com­pact and deepen the part­ner­ship of labour, gov­ern­ment, civil so­ci­ety and the pri­vate sec­tor. In this re­gard, we call on the NGO sec­tor to play a more mean­ing­ful role in shap­ing and de­fend­ing pro­gres­sive poli­cies and to offer their ex­per­tise to the ANC when it shapes poli­cies.”

South Africa re­mains one of the most un­equal so­ci­eties in the world – it is ranked among the top five un­equal coun­tries glob­ally with a Gini-co-ef­fi­cient of 0.63.

Given the cur­rent slow­down in the global mar­kets and its ef­fect on emerg­ing economies like South Africa, it has be­come more im­por­tant to en­sure proper fis­cal man­age­ment and pru­dent use of pub­lic money. It is im­por­tant that the ANC sus­tains so­cial and eco­nomic progress by fo­cus­ing on the iden­ti­fied de­vel­op­men­tal pri­or­i­ties.

But we be­lieve the long-term goals set out by the Na­tional De­vel­op­ment Plan hold the key to un­lock­ing and trans­form­ing the South African econ­omy and by ex­ten­sion pos­i­tively im­pact­ing the lives of all South Africans.

In­fras­truc­ture ex­pan­sion, eco­nomic growth and over­all de­vel­op­ment re­quire spe­cific skills. We need more en­gi­neers, more ar­ti­sans, more qual­i­fied teach­ers and health pro­fes­sion­als, to name but a few.

One of the most in­te­gral parts of ad­vanc­ing pros­per­ity is a so­ci­ety in which small busi­nesses and co-op­er­a­tives flour­ish.

But th­ese do not hap­pen in a vac­uum. We en­cour­age young peo­ple to seek vo­ca­tional ca­reers, call on South Africans to buy lo­cal, to sup­port small busi­nesses and above all to work to­gether to help trans­form our so­ci­ety. We must and we can.

CHANGE AT WORK: The Depart­ment of Ru­ral De­vel­op­ment and Land Re­form is to build 108 res­i­den­tial apart­ments in a phase of the re­de­vel­op­ment of Dis­trict Six. We must trans­form our so­ci­ety, says the writer.

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