Harris vs Patel face off

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DEBATE PIC INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS Ebrahim Patel and Tim Harris at Wits. Picture: Dumisani Dube, Independent Newspapers

Independent Newspaper’s Face Off debate between Tim Harris, the DA’s shadow minister of finance, and Ebrahim Patel, minister of economic development, was held at Wits University on May 1. Here they have their say online.

 

TIM HARRIS

Ebrahim Patel's desperate attack on DA government in the Western Cape shows just how jittery the ANC has become about the evidence that the DA really delivers for all, and the impact that this will have at the polls on 7 May.

Independent assessments of government performance consistently show that the Western Cape is the best-run province in South Africa:

"The Management and Performance Assessment Tool (MPAT), published by The Presidency's Department of Monitoring and Evaluation last year, rated the province number one on governance, financial management, human resource management and people management.

"For the last three years, the Western Cape made a clean sweep of the top three spots in the Southern African Institute of Government Auditors awards for financial reporting and accountability - whilst not a single Western Cape Department made this list in the last year of ANC rule.

"According to the Non-Financial Census of Municipalities (2012), the Western Cape has the highest proportion of households receiving free basic water, free basic electricity and free basic sewerage and sanitation - debunking the myth that the DA does not deliver to the poor.

"The LED Network, a project hosted by the South African Local Government Association, found that the economy of the City of Cape Town is more inclusive than the national economy, and that the Western Cape continues to perform better than the national average in employment creation.

Patel's claims that the Western Cape is starting to lag behind Gauteng and Kwazulu-Natal in terms of economic growth. This is simply untrue. According to the latest available figures from StatsSA (for 2012) the Western Cape's growth was the highest in the country at 3.2% - versus 2.9% for Gauteng and 2.8% for KwaZulu-Natal.

An honest analysis of employment statistics also shows that the Western Cape is a leading job-creator in South Africa:

"In the DA's term of office, nearly one out of every four jobs created in the country came from the Western Cape: 123 000 of the 561 000 jobs created. The province also created significantly more jobs than Gauteng - despite the fact that its labour force is less than half the size of Gauteng's.

"The Western Cape has the lowest unemployment in the country, 12% below the national average, and the lowest number of people who have given up looking for work.

"In 2013, unemployment in South Africa grew by 121 000, whilst it shrank by 48 000 in the Western Cape.

"The latest Labour Market Dynamics report from StatsSA shows that the Western Cape had the highest "transition rate" among youth - this measures the number of non-economically active youth who manage to get jobs.

"Data from StatsSA's latest labour force survey shows that youth unemployment in the Western Cape is the lowest in the country, and significantly lower than the national average.

It is also deeply ironic that Minister Patel tries to turn research published by the South African Reserve Bank, which confirms South Africa's growth potential, into an attack on the DA. Here are the facts: in 2013 the Reserve Bank published a working paper that showed how a set of five economic reforms can boost growth to 8% and create 6 million jobs in the next 10 years. The policy interventions proposed in the research all appear in the DA's economic policy. This credible, independent research shows that policies like those put forward by the DA could lead to levels of growth and job creation we have not yet seen under ANC rule.

Quoting selective statistics will not change the facts. The DA in the Western Cape is succeeding in delivering opportunities to all. Many challenges remain, but our record speaks for itself. On the 7th of May South Africans in the other eight provinces will get a chance to vote for a party that can bring positive change to them too.

 

EBRAHIM PATEL

(Click here to view tables supplied along with the statement - this will provide a download of an Excel document which you will have to open.)

South Africa has been through a profound shift in the past twenty years, in which a peaceful non-racial democracy has been built from a country that was in the midst of a civil war.

Today we can celebrate extraordinary achievements. As we approach the fifth democratic elections, we expect robust debate about policies and implementation. Regrettably, the Democratic Alliance has gone beyond a fair critique of the ruling party in this election campaign.

At its core, the DA has built its campaign around claims of ANC incompetence in the economy and more generally, and counterpoised this with claims of DA competence in the governance of the Western Cape.

The evidence however shows the DA has made misleading claims about the Western Cape takes credit for developments in the Western Cape that long preceded its administration; uses selective time periods and indicators; and misrepresents what other organisations say about their administration and policies.

The Western Cape is unusual because it did not incorporate any former "homeland" regions. It also had in-migration than Gauteng over the past 20 years. These factors advantage its development measured against the country as a whole.

I respond to the DA's assertions point by point.

Assertion:

A Presidency analysis (MPAT) and audits show the Western Cape is the best governed province.

Response:

MPAT and audits do not assess the quality of governance, but mainly compliance with management prescripts. They explicitly do not assess service delivery or economic management, where in fact the DA does not do well, but only whether officials stick to the rules.

Assertion:

The Western Cape has the highest proportion of households receiving free basic services.

Response:

The ANC governed in the Western Cape from 2004 to 2009, when the DA came into office. In 2009, the Western Cape was already in first place for free basic services - a policy the ANC initiated nationally.

Even 20 years ago, the Western Cape had the greatest access to water and electricity in the country, a position it has since maintained. Since 2009, however, the DA has not increased the share of households with these services. And the backlogs still fall most heavily on African communities.

In education, the DA has not done well. Under ANC rule, the Western Cape was the top-ranked province in matric results. In 2013, it ranked only fourth. According to the General Household Survey, the drop-out rate for black youth aged 16 to 18 in the province in 2012 was 21%, compared to 13% in the rest of the country. And while in Gauteng, 12,5% of young people aged 18 to 30 were attending a university or college, in the Western Cape the figure was 8%.

Assertion:

The Western Cape has the fastest economic growth.

Response:

From 2009 to 2012 (the latest official provincial data), Gauteng's economy grew 3,6% a year and KwaZulu Natal by 3,4%. In contrast, the economy of the Western Cape grew just 3,3% a year. It did grow faster in 2012 - but that was only part of the DA administration.

Under the ANC administration from 2004 to 2009, the Western Cape enjoyed the fastest growth in the country, at 4,2% a year.

Assertion:

Under the DA administration, the Western Cape created a quarter of all job and outstripped job creation in Gauteng.

Response:

The DA uses data from March 2009 to December 2013, which brings in seasonal distortions that exaggerate employment growth especially in the Western Cape. For this reason, economists generally compare the same period in each year.

From December 2009 to December 2013, the latest full four years, employment in the Western Cape grew by 191 000. Employment in Gauteng increased by 409 000. Nationally employment grew by 1,2 million.

According to the Quarterly Labour Force Survey database, just over half the jobs created in the Western Cape from December 2009 to December 2013 went to whites, while Africans got around a tenth. Yet whites made up only 21% of total employment in December 2013, compared to 26% for Africans.

The share of working-age Africans and Coloureds with employment actually fell from 2009 to 2013, while the share of whites with jobs climbed.

White South Africans are a vital and important part of our nation and should not be excluded from opportunities, but disadvantaging black South Africans in this way is not fair and will not build an inclusive society.

Statement:

Unemployment in the Western Cape is 12% below the national average.

Response:

In December 2013 the national unemployment rate as usually measured (the “official” rate) was 24,1%, while the unemployment rate in the Western Cape was 21,0%. That is, it is just 3,1 basis points lower than the national average. As of December 2013, Limpopo and KwaZulu Natal had lower unemployment rates. In contrast, in March 2009, at the end of the ANC administration in the Western Cape, that province had the lowest unemployment rate.

The DA’s 12% figure apparently refers to the less commonly used indicator of “broad” unemployment, which includes people who want a job but are not actively seeking one. By this measure, the Western Cape has had the lowest unemployment rate in the country since the 1990s, that is, even before the DA took office. It reflects the province’s relatively privileged position before 1994, not the achievements of the DA.

Statement:

In 2013, unemployment in South Africa grew by 121 000, whilst it shrank in the Western Cape.

Response:

If we measure from December 2009 to December 2013, to eliminate seasonal distortions, unemployment in the Western Cape climbed from 545 000 to 593 000, or by 8,8%. In contrast, it rose nationally by 9,1%, and in Gauteng by only 7,7%. Here again, the DA is trying to limit scrutiny to a single year.

Statement:

The Western Cape had the highest “transition rate” for youth as well as the lowest youth unemployment.

Response:

From December 2009 to December 2013, employment for young people aged 18 to 34 grew by just 19 000 in the Western Cape. In Gauteng, it grew by 118 000, and in the rest of the country by 169 000. In the Western Cape, youth employment climbed by 2,2%, compared to 14% for older workers.

Statement:

Reserve Bank research supports the DA’s economic policies.

Response:

The Reserve Bank calls this statement a “blatant misrepresentation of the facts and the misuse of the SARB’s name.

The Bank’s working paper modelled the effect of relieving various constraints on growth such as infrastructure and investment. It did not test policies to achieve these aims, so the DA is misrepresenting its findings.

In sum, the DA uses data selectively and re-writes history to lend a false gloss to its administration from 2009. The Western Cape is an important part of the national economy, influenced by national economic policies and with real strengths and achievements. It has strong light manufacturing industries, sophisticated business capabilities and effective transport logistics.

* The two statements are presented as they were received and have not been edited. - IOL

** The views expressed here are not necesssarily those of Independent Newspapers.



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