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Bloemfontein - The Free State’s economic structure was limiting the creation of jobs, Finance MEC Seiso Mohai said on Wednesday.
“We must create and sustain the value adding production sectors in mining through beneficiation, (and) in agriculture through agriculture processing,” he said.
Mohai was speaking during a debate on economic transformation in the Legislature.
He said the whole country was abuzz with talk of transformation and the public discourse about meaningful transformation was intense.
It was time for economic power relations to be radically changed in order to advance the country’s social transformation project into a higher trajectory.
“The old economic power relations that remain intact are becoming dangerous to the stability of our hard-won democracy.”
Mohai said the existing structures of the economic productive system have to be changed in terms of ownership, social participation, management, employment, skills and in geography.
He said rural areas should be integrated into the modern productive system.
Mohai said the new system of resource distribution must benefit all South Africans inclusive of race, class, gender and geography.
For the Free State, transforming and developing its main industries such as mining, agriculture, manufacturing, tourism and infrastructure would be crucial.
“We must develop and expand the manufacturing beyond the dominance of petrochemicals to include textiles and food processing as large portions of the manufacturing sector,” he said.
ANC member Mantwa Thoabala said the character of those taking part in the economy must change for successful economic transformation. Not just those politically connected should benefit.
She said better education, by not lowering standards, would also be an important step.
“Empowerment will come if we give our youth better education.”
Thoabala said the ethics of hard work, dedication, spirit and guts as seen during the struggle years should be restored.
“Hard work could not be legislated.”
Local Freedom Front Plus leader Abrie Oosthuizen said the economy had no colour.
Any region in the world’s economy was measured by its growth rate.
“This is the important component that needs attention, meaning a drastic increase in productivity.”
He said the government needed to set an example on work ethics, but looking at municipalities, this was not happening.
“Cadre deployment and affirmative action are probably reasons for the current state,” he said. - Sapa