Cape Town - 140219 - The debate on President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation Address (SONA) entered a second day today as opposition parties and ANC members took turns debating. Pictured is Tim Harris. Picture: David Ritchie

You’re mistaken, Max. The DA’s manifesto presents a clear plan to tackle corruption and help our economy, says Tim Harris.

Cape Town - The flurry of manifesto launches this past weekend has revealed how different political parties will try to win over the voting public. The ANC will try to appeal to progress made under President Jacob Zuma’s predecessors to cover up how his administration has taken South Africa backwards. The Freedom Front Plus will keep plying the divisive scaremongering that has worked for them, in their small niche, in the past. The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) will attempt to give increasingly desperate South Africans easy answers to complex questions. The DA is the only party that recognises and speaks to the hopes and aspirations of South Africans, and sets out a comprehensive, costed plan for change that brings jobs.

In his opinion editorial “EFF only party that spells it out” [SEE RELATED ARTICLES ABOVE], Max du Preez praises the clarity of the EFF’s “clear vision and economic policy”. He claims the EFF “spells out” policy in an alluringly simple way, which is likely to win them support. He goes on to challenge the DA to explain to voters how the party’s “promises would be realised in practice”.

The truth is that the DA’s manifesto could not be clearer – it is an honest conversation with voters about how the government could extend opportunity to South Africans to improve their lives and give them a chance to succeed.

We make concrete proposals to fight corruption by banning public servants from doing business with the state – something we have actually implemented in the DA-governed Western Cape. We commit to creating 1 million internships and 6 million expanded public work opportunities, and investing 10 percent of GDP in the roads, ports and railways that the economy needs to grow.

We have clear proposals for growing small business – from assisting them with overcoming red tape to giving them access to free training and support through an “opportunity card”. We commit to training 15 000 more teachers a year and increasing the National Student Financial Aid Scheme budget to R16 billion.

We explain how we will ensure that Black Economic Empowerment creates jobs and benefits economic outsiders, rather than enriching the politically-connected few. We have detailed plans to put assets such as land, houses and state-owned entities in the hands of ordinary South Africans. We commit to putting 250 000 more cops on the streets to keep communities safer and investing more resources in rehabilitation to fight the scourge of tik and nyope.

The Reserve Bank has published a paper that shows that a policy set very similar to ours can help our economy get to 8 percent growth and create 6 million jobs in 10 years.

Our extensive policy set is fully costed and condensed in our manifesto. This is summarised in a booklet that highlights key policy ideas. This is summarised, in turn, in a pledge card that sets out our most important promises to voters.

Our message is clear.

In contrast, the only thing clear about the EFF’s policy is that it is unaffordable. “Expropriation of South Africa’s land without compensation for equal redistribution” is unconstitutional and will devastate our economy.

Once “mines, banks, and other strategic sectors of the economy” have been nationalised, there will be no money left to fund the “free quality education, health care, houses and sanitation” that is promised. We can afford neither the 50 percent increase in public sector wages, nor the increases in the minimum wages promised. They will bankrupt the economy.

Effective parties have to tell voters how they would address issues that are important to them. But simplicity cannot be the sole objective. There are too many examples of simple ideas that have had catastrophic consequences.

Apartheid ideology was quite clear about the reasoning behind “separate development”, racial classification and race-based discrimination; today it is universally recognised as a crime against humanity. Mao’s Great Leap Forward was clear about its plans for rapid industrialisation and a prohibition on private farming; the resulting famine led to an estimated death toll of more than 18 million. Zanu-PF’s plans for invading and grabbing farms had no nuance; today Zimbabwe’s economy and quality of life is described as being in “slow, uninterrupted decline”.

The DA’s manifesto presents a clear plan to tackle corruption and help our economy to create jobs. It is underpinned by the belief that South Africans can succeed if given an opportunity to do so.

* Tim Harris, MP, is the DA’s Shadow Minister of Finance.

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

Cape Times