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Johannesburg - Boos, protestations and applause accompanied ANC deputy president and National Planning Commission deputy chairman Cyril Ramaphosa’s lecture at Wits University on Tuesday night.
The businessman delivered a lecture on the National Development Plan’s (NDP) proposals for the economy.
The planning commission developed the NDP, which is the government’s strategy to reduce poverty and inequality by 2030.
Ramaphosa said the economy did not yet serve the needs of all South Africans as it was monopolistic and skill levels were poor, which resulted in new entrants into the job market not being accommodated.
He said the development plan would deliver faster economic growth as it provided a coherent, comprehensive and pragmatic strategy.
“We are a nation of people who love to talk, we get noisy when we are disgruntled, and that’s good,” he said of the criticism the plan had received from trade unions and some in the media.
Ramaphosa said workers now enjoyed more protection than ever before, whereas before 1994 they would be fired if they demonstrated.
This was met with boos from a crowd of people calling themselves the Marikana Support Campaign.
A member of the audience shouted: “They now get shot instead.”
Members of the group held posters saying “Don’t let the politicians get away with murder”. The group comprises members of the Thembelihle Crisis Committee; the Makause Community Development Forum, from an informal settlement in Germiston; and the Democratic Left Front, a political party.
Group spokesman Trevor Ngwane said they were demonstrating because they were convinced Ramaphosa was heavily involved in the massacre of 34 miners at Marikana last year.
Ramaphosa said the development plan had solutions to “the deep structural weakness” that had seen 50 percent of South African youths unemployed.
“We plan to raise employment by 11 million to 24 million by 2030,” he said.
Ramaphosa said many of the unemployed lacked skills, training and experience.
“The costs of hiring an underperforming, inexperienced worker are high and firms are wary of hiring people like that. It immediately puts a glass ceiling for new entrants.”
He added that the plan would foster robust manufacturing as it would attract foreign direct investment and ensure a stable economy.
Even with the vibrant manufacturing industry, the bulk of jobs were likely to come from small businesses, he said.
Ramaphosa said the plan was not perfect as there was no perfect plan in the world.
The picketers were given room to ask questions, and a group member said the plan failed before it had even started because the government had indicated it did not care about its people when it refused to pay for legal representation in the wake of the Marikana shootings.
Sapa reports that a member of the Marikana Support Campaign stood at the foot of Wits’s Great Hall stage and screamed at Ramaphosa during a question-and-answer session.
“How do you sleep at night? You have blood on your hands,” the woman cried.
As university security led the woman out of the hall, she could still be heard shouting.
One member of the support campaign criticised Ramaphosa, saying the election of one of the richest people in the country as deputy president of the ANC was worrying.
“The NDP is old wine in new bottles, and that’s what we are asking for,” he said sarcastically.
“We are asking for more Marikanas, more shooting, more inequality, more brutality and less service delivery.”