Picture: Kopano Tlape/GCIS
Picture: Kopano Tlape/GCIS

Ramaphosa’s ‘new’ economic recovery plan a thin wish list

By Opinion Time of article published Oct 23, 2020

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By Neo Mokone, Lethabo Sehlabane and Thembalethu Seyisi

Cape Town – The government’s “new” economic reconstruction and recovery plan is nothing but a wish list.

There were high expectations leading up to the announcement among politicians, economists, business leaders and the public but the economic recovery plan was thin on the how and left much to be still clarified.

Much of what the president said had already been said in previous presidential announcements. We are therefore doubtful that the “plan” will be successful unless the president’s house is in order.

Our aim was to consider the government’s economic recovery plan and thereafter compare it with alternative recovery plans as offered by Stellenbosch University under the Social Justice Plan chaired by Professor Thuli Madonsela and that of Mmusi Maimane’s One South Africa Movement.

It was a total disappointment to realise that the government’s so-called recovery plan is nothing short of words bashed on to a document during the last minutes before a presentation and hence it is an injustice to compare it with those plans where people have put in an effort, thought, and applied their mind in putting it together. Needless to say, the government can never achieve any of its “wish-lists” if the governance status quo remains. That is if the president’s house is not in order.

The supposed plan is a collection of words which ultimately means nothing hence, safer for the government because there is no consensus on what exactly is meant and that is why a failed implementation will not give rise to any serious liability.

The “plan” makes use of phrases such as “gender equality and economic inclusion of women and youth”, what does that mean exactly? Where are you going to include them? How? When? Are we supposed to figure this out ourselves? What about “mass public intervention”? What does that entail? A supposed plan was compiled in an American dialect and (all) relevant presidential staff failed in their duties to identify this detail.

A significant amount of money was spent in compiling this plan. A wasted spending, which could have been avoided had qualified candidates occupied these strategic governmental positions. How many more similar gross negligent decisions occurred and will continue?

If failing to execute such a simple task, what more in respect of complex decisions? It is evident that this lack of skill, competency, care and diligence is costing the government billions of wasted rand which could have been utilised elsewhere.

It is somewhat insulting to be fed “the same old story”. It is on this basis that we say the president has unacceptably misrepresented us to the outside world.

We need qualified candidates to be in government and to assist the president in planning, developing and implementing policies because as it stands currently, there is no plan but a wish-list.

The time is now to radically transform government departments so that the grand plans of the Constitution can be accelerated.

Much has been made about the radical idea to boost the manufacturing industry and encourage the consumption of locally produced goods.

The plan aims to encourage investment in manufacturing from both local and foreign investors. There is however no mention of how that investment will be regulated, especially for foreign investors. It is imperative that we control how investment is made in our own country if we are to improve the lives of our people.

It is for this reason that South Africa needs to legislate foreign investment in these key sectors earmarked for improvement, to the effect that foreign investors be compelled to partner with South Africans on a 50/50 basis when investing in our country.

This model has been used with much success by countries such as South Korea to ensure that their people benefit from the growth proposed. It would be of no use to us to drive investment and not have our people share in equity as we would not be able to benefit from the success of the investment and economic activity.

In a country where unemployment sits at 23.3% (not including those who have stopped looking for various reasons) with 17 million citizens benefiting from state grants and 5 million of those actually needing the grant to stay above the poverty line, a competent state with corrupt-free governance is actually non-negotiable.

The economic recovery plan aims for a growth rate of 5.4%. One can see this as highly ambitious or as wishful thinking because when looking back at other plans proposed by the government the targets were never reached.

* Mokone (law), Sehlabane (accounting) and Seyisi (law) are student leaders at Stellenbosch University.

Cape Times

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