DA releases draft economic justice policy
Durban - The Democratic Alliance (DA) head of policy, Gwen Ngwenya, said on Friday that the official opposition had released its draft economic justice policy.
"[This is] the second document to be released for discussion ahead of the policy conference, to be held on April 4 and 5," she said.
The draft policy was a response to the increasing economic exclusion experienced by the majority of South Africans, added Ngwenya.
"Economic exclusion in South Africa is rooted in a past of colonial and apartheid oppression, but years of poor governance and corruption have stifled our ability to overcome that past.
"Specifically, 55% of the country survives on less than R992 a month; 29% of working age South Africans are unemployed, 38.5% if you include those who are discouraged and are no longer looking for work.
"In addition, the effects of the migrant labour system and spatial dislocation disrupted the structure of many families and can still be felt today - according to the 2019 General Household Survey, two out of three children do not live with both parents, an important contributing factor is the location of work opportunities in economic centres where many cannot afford to live with their family."
The prospects of the near future did not look promising, judging by the outcomes of the education system, she said.
"In 2017, a total of 1 052 080 learners were enrolled in grade 10, yet only 409 906 learners eventually passed matric last year. This means only 38.9% of the grade 10 learner cohort actually wrote and passed matric two years later.
"These are the people and circumstances which redress policy should speak to. However, BEE focuses on the wealthy, politically connected, or tenderpreneurs.
Ngwena said that BEE embodied trickle down redress, which "does not work".
"[BEE is] the idea that transferring assets, positions, and contracts from one elite to another would result in broad-based prosperity. Trickle down redress does not work. And we propose a bottom-up approach."
Ngwenya said the country needed to focus on the drivers of inequality of opportunity, which affected the majority of South Africans.
The private sector could play an important role in helping to move towards a more economically just society, she added.
The DA proposed the use of the United Nations (UN) sustainable development goals (SDG) as objectives that could be achieved with the help of the corporate sector.
The SDGs had a number of advantages to the BEE scorecard, said Ngwenya, which included targeting the vulnerable and excluded as opposed to elites, and companies being able to identify the goals to which they were most fit to contribute;
"The SDGs are a global framework enjoying wide stakeholder support, whereas BEE has been criticised by the EU Chamber of Commerce in SA as the top legislative challenge to doing business in SA.
"This approach has the potential to drive company profitability. There are growing number of investors looking for SDG commitments.
"This policy follows an approach which is based on need and disadvantage as opposed to race. One's race does not change regardless of how empowered you become. BEE has enabled people to benefit on the basis of their race, who do not need assistance, at the expense of those who do."
The DA's policy would ensure that the disadvantaged benefitted from redress, she said.
African News Agency/ANA