Letter: Zuma must pay for empty promises

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I WISH to respond to an article in Business Report (“Modi seeks input on less centralised growth plan”, August 20). Rajesh Kumar Singh reports that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is determined to cut red tape, fight corruption, and make it easier for entrepreneurs to do business in India as he promised during the elections.

In order to open government to the people, Modi has launched a portal where people now can share ideas of national importance and help break down governance structures that are failing the people.

To my astonishment, in the main section of the newspaper, a cartoon shows President Jacob Zuma, unlike his Indian counterpart, having to write the line: “I must not make promises I don’t keep” many times over.

For a long while, South Africans have noted with dismay that the president makes numerous promises in vain. His latest promise in Parliament to “radically transform the economy” is pie in the sky. His mistaken belief that a super-large cabinet will achieve super deeds flies in the face of the modern-day adage that super lean is to be super mean.

It is therefore no surprise that under Zuma’s watch, the national debt grew from 28 percent of gross domestic product in 2008 to 45 percent today.

Consumption side expenditure is so high under Zuma and corruption is so rampant that infrastructure development will suffer seriously. With rating agencies downgrading the four big banks in our country, the question arises as to whether South Africa itself is not about to experience the same fate.

Fiscal finances are in poor shape.

As Modi charts a new course for India, we in South Africa should keep a close eye to see whether he indeed succeeds in cutting red tape, fighting corruption and driving economic growth. If he succeeds, the call for the South African leader to do the same ought to rise to a crescendo also.

Meanwhile, in the School for Scandal, where a cartoonist has put him, he can carry on filling the board with “I must not make promises I don’t keep” because it is a punishment he deserves.

Leadership today is much more about economics than politics. Under the circumstances, we need to ask what should happen if Zuma fails to transform our economy radically, as he promised.

Mosiuoa Lekota, MP

Parliament, Cape Town

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