To set South Africa on a new economic path to prosperity, we will Act As One
13 October 2020
Note to Editors: The following is an extract of the speech delivered today by Herman Mashaba, President of ActionSA, regarding South Africa’s economic recovery. The full speech, including the video, is available on our website here.
There is an African proverb that says “when the elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers.”
The economic crisis we face today, is the result of indecision, inaction and policy uncertainty caused by ideological and factional battles within the ANC-led Tripartite Alliance. Government’s responses to COVID-19, have brought socio-economic fault lines into sharp focus, highlighting how big promises are seldom followed by big actions.
We are told about a R500 billion stimulus package, yet we small businesses are shutting down and more jobs are lost.
We are told about fighting corruption, yet those in power continue to get richer and evade prosecution, while unemployed masses must contend with deepening poverty without access to UIF benefits.
We are told about fiscal restraint, yet billions are wasted on dysfunctional SOEs as government fails to provide a stable electricity supply.
We are unable to raise the tax revenue needed to build new schools, universities, upgrade road infrastructure, and provide adequate housing.
Our healthcare system is overburdened as many are unable to afford private healthcare. Crime and drugs persistently destroy our communities. Many young people exit the education system with no prospect of viable economic opportunities.
We celebrate 18 million people on social grants, instead of weeping that so many people live without the means to provide for their families.
These enduring socio-economic challenges reflect the injustices of our past, where a child born in a township or informal settlement, has a greater chance of falling victim to crime than becoming a doctor, lawyer, or successful entrepreneur.
This week, the government will make more promises. Unfortunately, no viable solutions will be offered. There is no doubt that South Africans are tired of broken promises and government’s failure to lead us out of the economic crisis we are in.
All this must change. The time for hollow words is over. Now is the time for action.
ActionSA’s most fundamental task is to provide a new alternative. One that rises above the meagre offerings of a broken political system. One that inspires hope again. Nearly all our immediate challenges come down to an economy that has stalled, declined, and now battered by COVID-19.
If we are ever to overcome our economic challenges, practical solutions, strong and decisive leadership capable of making tough choices is needed. ActionSA stands ready to offer an alternative vision toward a more prosperous destiny.
1. We will re-arrange the national budget
Too many households have come to know that when income is low, one must re-arrange the budget and prioritise expenditure. Likewise, the state must free up resources to spend extensively on infrastructure improvements on education, safety and security, and on incentivising local and foreign direct investment.
We will cut the bonds to state-owned entities like SAA into which billions have been sunk without any promise of recovery. The civil service wage bill which was more than doubled from R340 billion in 2010 to R745 billion in 2019 must be reduced. As well as expenditure on the luxuries and perks enjoyed by government officials on travel and VIP security.
We will adopt expansionary fiscal policies that reduce taxes and put more money in the hands of citizens to spend and stimulate economic activity.
2. We will reform SA’s labour legislation
South Africa’s unemployment rate sits at 42% and 2.2 million jobs lost to date. A factor to be considered: our labour laws make it difficult to hire South Africans instead of making it easier. They protect the employed for now, at the expense the employable. Many SMMEs lose out on growth opportunities so they can hire more South Africans; however, rigid labour laws achieve the opposite. While workers’ rights must certainly be protected, we cannot afford to do so at the expense of 10 million people living without the dignity that comes with gainful employment.
3. We will end trade union dominance over our economy
We will Act As One to break the stranglehold that trade unions have over our economy. Last week, COSATU embarked on a nationwide strike action against a government that they help get elected every election to the detriment of South Africans.
4. We will bring about an Education Revolution in South Africa
Despite spending a large proportion of our budget on education, South Africa’s schooling system continues to perform poorly. ActionSA intends to overhaul the curriculum in line with the 4IR and the future world of work. We must cultivate the spirit of entrepreneurship so that we can produce more employers, not just employees. Importantly, schools must teach our young men to respect women, and put an end to gender-based violence.
We will build new universities, teaching, nursing, and FET colleges, as well as vocational schools and ensure that government provides affordable education for all. Municipalities will invest in ECD centres. It is a proven fact that teaching the skills of learning early on, helps reduce high school dropout rates.
5. We will ensure ease of doing business in SA
We will ensure that it is incrementally easier for new businesses to setup here, and for existing ones to thrive. Before Covid-19, the ease of doing business was an important factor in economic performance and post the pandemic, the ease of doing business is even more essential.
We will establish business support hubs where SMMEs can register for tax, electricity, and water connections support, and remove the bureaucratic red tape to eliminate barriers to conducting business. We will ensure that we nurture small business, improve access to financing, and incentivise diversity of ownership. We will incentivise commercial banks to provide innovative and alternative funding options to entrepreneurs, backed by government and declare small businesses tax-exempt in the early years of their establishment.
6. We will restore the rule of law
No economy can grow in a state of chaos and anarchy. High levels of crime and a broken criminal justice system limit our economic potential. The SAPS must be modernised to perform its work without political interference. The NPA must upskill and resource its prosecutors. Our judicial system must operate with greater speed and professionalism.
Put simply, when a crime is committed, the criminal must face the full might of the law.
To retore faith in law enforcement, high-profile cases of corruption must be brought before the courts. Individuals found to be corrupt, must be prosecuted and jailed without fear or favour.
Additionally, will fortify our country’s borders. South Africa is a sovereign country and must control who and what enters through her borders in accordance with our laws.
We must end the ease with which foreign criminal syndicates operate in our country and the ease that drugs and counterfeit goods come into the country, to the detriment of local businesses.
We will Act As One against farm killings. Agriculture is a strategic sector of our economy that feeds our nation. We need a policing strategy to protect all farming communities in our country.
7. We will work to revitalise our cities
The Inner City Rejuvenation Project, that began during administration as mayor of the City of Johannesburg, can be replicated in all major cities across South Africa. Our inner cities have turned into slums where criminal syndicates thrive.
Hundreds of factories lie empty. Surrounding communities battle unemployment rates of 70%, and a manufacturing industry in sharp decline. During my mayorship, we were able to hand over more than 154 buildings to the private sector in Johannesburg alone, with plans to generate R32 billion in investment, thereby creating 12 000 jobs in the construction sector. In an effort to provide affordable housing for long distance travellers for work purposes.
We will change this! ActionSA has initiated a project a leading South African university to understand how these facilities can be availed to the private sector to be repurposed.
8. We will deliver an uncompromising economic policy
The civil service must be professionalised by hiring the best minds to effectively implement policy and enable them to succeed. Political leadership will provide the support needed for implementation or get out of the way.
ActionSA exists to provide a new alternative for a country that now feels hopeless.
There is no denying that South Africa is fast approaching a cross-rods. We can no longer afford to continue down the path of failed policy implementation and broken promises.
South Africans need to choose a future government based on sound economic plans backed by credible leaders. ActionSA sees this as its most important offering to the South African people.
Issued by Lerato M-Ngobeni, National Spokesperson, ActionSA, 13 October 2020