Pietermaritzburg - Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas says economic transformation should not be about replacing a white elite by the black elite, but rather ensuring an even distribution of wealth in South Africa.
Speaking at a post-budget breakfast discussion in Pietermaritzburg on Saturday, Jonas unpacked on some of the key features of the budget to an audience that included KwaZulu-Natal political heavyweights such as provincial ANC chairperson Sihle Zikalala.
He explained that transformation should not be the new scare word, but should rally the country in ensuring that there were equal opportunities in the country’s economy.
“The fact of the matter is whether you are speaking of white or black monopoly capital at the end of the day it is monopoly capital. What you want to deal with is how to end such a monopoly and accommodate those left out...” said Jonas.
He also called for a re-look at the public sector set up, saying the current wage bill was taking a lot of money which could be better used elsewhere. Currently education and health takes a sizeable part of the country’s budget.
"What you need is to have individuals with defined requirements and whether they are living up to these. When you speak of education it means your frontline staff, your teachers should be well equipped to deal with challenges," said Jonas.
According to the deputy minister there were some public servants who were not providing value for money and were draining resources which could be used better elsewhere.
"When you have a deputy director who cannot explain what they were doing in the department during the month then you have a problem,” said Jonas.
He also called on municipalities to devise ways of protecting existing customers before courting new customers, saying that this would ensure local economic growth.
“If as a municipality you are not in touch with local industries they will eventually pull off and go elsewhere and that has an impact on employment at a local level.
“Let us not undertake foreign trips when we should be protecting local industries," said Jonas.
He said managing public resources better was crucial as it would boost investor confidence in the country’s economy and attract investors.
The deputy minister said avenues such as the post-budget breakfast gathering should be done often to enable ordinary citizens and local entrepreneurs to understand developments in the country’s fiscal policy developments.
Aside from Zikalala, Deputy Environmental Affairs Minister Barbara Thompson, provincial ANC secretary Supa Zuma, Education MEC Mthandeni Dlungwane, Health MEC Dr. Sibongiseni Dhlomo and local business leaders also attended the event.