SA has slid backwards under Zuma - Tim Harris

DA MP says growth below that of other emerging markets, unemployment remains stubbornly high

President Zuma's broken job promises

Note to editors: The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by the DA Shadow Minister of Finance, Tim Harris MP, during the debate on the President's State of the Nation Address.

Honourable speaker.

I hope the quality of today's debate is better than yesterday's when we heard nothing but ‘stories' from the ANC's side of the house.

Really, they need to do better because they have some big gaps to fill after the President's speech last week.

In that speech he tried to claim all of the credit for his predecessors' work over the past twenty years, to cover up the fact that South Africa has slid backwards under his leadership.

Many speakers yesterday continued the President's analysis of achievements since 1994. They glossed over the decline of the past five years, and benchmarked democratic South Africa against apartheid South Africa.

Let me be clear here: it is not a debatable point that we are better off today than under apartheid. I do not believe that anyone in this house disagrees with that.

But it also is not valid comparison. We can do better than benchmarking ourselves against a racist, illegitimate regime.

Because, Mr Speaker, what is really at stake in this debate is the record of President Zuma's ANC in government. And when you dig into that record, you can see why the President and the other ANC speakers are trying to hide behind the record of previous leaders.

Some awkward truths come to light when you compare the past 5 years to the years that came before. Since 2009:

  • Unemployment has increased from 30% to 34%,
  • The number of discouraged work-seekers has nearly doubled from 1,2m to 2.2m,
  • There are five times more service delivery protests each week, and
  • Average economic growth has declined from 4,2% under President Mbeki to 2,8% under President Zuma.

And that is not to say that the Hon Pandor was correct yesterday when she giddily hailed the "unparalleled achievements" of the past twenty years. Over the whole two decades growth remained stuck well below other emerging markets, with unemployment stuck stubbornly high.

Perhaps most shocking is the fact that inequality actually increased between the fall of apartheid and the fall of Thabo Mbeki. StatsSA measured a gini coefficient of 0,64 in 1995 increasing to 0,68 in 2008.

The point for today's debate is that, even measured against these low standards; President Zuma's ANC has failed our economy.

Yes Mr Speaker, when you leave their stories for a moment and reflect on the truth, you can see this administration for what it really is: a government that has failed to deliver jobs and failed our economy.

Now, I know you may be thinking, "Minister Davies gave us a long analysis yesterday of why none of this is their fault. Why we can blame it all on the global financial crisis..."

If that is the truth then I would really like to hear one of the ANC speakers explain the growth performance of emerging markets like Vietnam, Peru and Turkey. They are all growing well above 4% - in the same global economy, from similar stages of development - while our economy is growing at under 2%. The only explanation is a lack of leadership on the economy.

But, Mr Speaker, you might think that, given that it is an election year, the governing party might put forward a few more new ideas to at least try to convince voters that they have a plan to create jobs.

Yet every speech we have heard from their side of the house, including the President's has been silent on a plan. "Wait till after the elections if you want a plan," the President said.

Well, fortunately, we have seen the ANC's plan in their election manifesto. Lets look at what it has to say about jobs. Here's something: "create 6 million work opportunities by 2019".

That's great. It's a good idea. The DA in government rolls out high quality Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) opportunities in great numbers because they help to reduce poverty and transfer skills.

In fact, last year the national Department of Public Works awarded the City of Cape Town prizes for their EPWP roll-out in two of the three categories available to municipalities.

And the DA run Western Cape has delivered 100 000 more work opportunities than the target set for us in 2009. We also deliver more skills than any other province - 40% of the training provided under EPWP nationwide comes from just one province: the Western Cape.

Mr Speaker, the DA believes in EPWP work opportunities, but they are no substitute for real jobs. In our manifesto we actually commit to providing 7 million EPWP work opportunities by 2019.

But it is scandalous that there are no other job-creating ideas in this manifesto, that the ANC's jobs plan begins and ends with EPWP work opportunities. In contrast, the DA's manifesto would lead to 8% growth in ten years, and help to create six million jobs.

But perhaps the ANC is lacking ideas because every time they make a promise on the economy, they fail to keep it. They are caught out "telling stories" you might say.

In their 2009 election manifesto:

They promised to "half the levels of poverty and unemployment by 2014" but the number of unemployed South Africans has increased by 1.4 million since then.

They promised to "protect the poor communities from the rising prices of food". Instead we have seen bread prices and meat prices rocket by 69% and 40% respectively.

They promised to "adjust BEE policies to benefit broader sections of our people". Instead Minister Davies changed the definition of a new entrant to a share scheme from someone with less than R20 million equity to R50 million.

It really is a dismal record on the economy, isn't it? The Zuma ANC comes up short against previous administrations; it comes up short against other emerging markets. It even comes up short against it's own election promises!

Last night the Hon Pandor began her speech by lamenting the DA's negativity. Well Mr Speaker, to paraphrase Churchill, there is much to be negative about - and most of it has emerged under President Zuma's ANC.

Thankfully, the DA is not negative about our country. We believe that our people have the potential to build a strong economy, to take on the rest of the world and win.

South Africans are inspired by the way the DA has turned Cape Town into a city that delivers more free basic services to the poor than any other, and is the best-run metro in the country according to Municipal IQ.

They are inspired by the way the DA has turned the Western Cape into a province of hope, with an unemployment rate 12-percentage points lower than the national average.

But most of all, they have had enough of the ANC's stories and, this year, are going to make themselves heard at the ballot box.

I thank you.

Issued by the DA, February 19 2014

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