Politics / 9 January 2017, 06:35am / Baldwin Ndaba and Luyolo Mkentane
Johannesburg – Black people must benefit from the economic resources of the country, including access to their land.
This was the message in the annual ANC January 8 statement delivered by President Jacob Zuma during his party’s 105th birthday celebration at Orlando Stadium in Soweto on Sunday.
Zuma’s statement offered a multi-pronged approach to deal with the ills of the country. These included the inclusion of blacks in running the economy, strategies to fight crime and corruption, as well as returning land to black people.
Earlier, Zuma conceded that faction fighting within his party was affecting its fortunes.
“Our own research and interactions with members of the ANC demonstrate clearly that the people abhor the apparent preoccupation with personal gain. People are clear: their main priorities are jobs, fighting crime and corruption.
“Our task therefore is to grow the economy, create jobs and rigorously fight crime and corruption,” Zuma said.
It appears the outcome of the August 3 local government elections, which saw the ANC losing the key Joburg and Tshwane metros, had forced it to review its strategies and prioritise land and jobs.
Zuma said more decisive steps must and would be taken to promote greater economic inclusion and to advance ownership of the economy by blacks.
He predicted the economy was set to grow by 2.9 percent this year.
“As the governing party, the ANC must use the levers of state power to transform the economy and improve the lives of our people. It has a duty to use government incentives, procurement, infrastructure, investment and other measures to create new industries and expand existing industries.
“Doing so will increase ownership of the economy by the black majority,” Zuma said.
The ANC government had to use all measures available to develop township and rural economies to create “jobs for our people”.
“The manufacturing sector can be a catalyst for transforming the economy and creating jobs. This is illustrated by the fact that this sector created more than 7000 new jobs during the first six months of 2016.
“We call on South Africans, and in particular young black and female entrepreneurs, to take advantage of all programmes and incentives to help turn South Africa into a bustling hub of industrialisation and manufacturing. We must boldly turn our country into a construction site,” Zuma said.
He said the government had budgeted R870billion in the next three years for infrastructure development which would help to create entrepreneurs and jobs, and support small businesses and co-operatives in the construction sector through the constructions of hospitals, clinics, roads, colleges and schools.
He added the government was already spending R500bn a year on the procurement of goods and services and appealed to small businesses to take up the opportunities.
“New regulations will come into place this year, making it compulsory for big constructors to subcontract 30 percent of business to small businesses as proposed in the last ANC national general council.
This should be used to empower and develop black-owned small businesses.
“Strict enforcement of black economic empowerment should be undertaken to contribute to the transformation of the economy,” Zuma emphasised.
He also called upon the nation to provide support to state-owned entities like Eskom.
“South Africa has experienced less load shedding since 2015, and we commend Eskom for the stabilisation of the electricity grid. Continued stabilisation, together with the addition of new capacity, will have positive effects on economic growth and create new jobs.”
Zuma urged state-owned entities to actively encourage the emergence of black-owned small businesses in their procurement of goods and services as part of economic transformation.
He emphasised that economic transformation was possible only if the private sector played its part.