Johannesburg - Former AU Commission chairperson Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has called for sweeping radical economic transformation to solve the country’s slow economic growth.
And she insisted that contentious radical economic transformation concept was not something new in the country.
Dlamini Zuma, who is President Jacob Zuma’s choice for a candidate to succeed him when he steps down as ANC leader in December, said the concept merely meant change.
She delivered the keynote address at the Progressive Professionals Forum’s event on radical economic transformation held at Woodmead in Joburg on Friday night.
“Radical economic transformation is nothing new. The land is nothing new, the wars of dispossession went for centuries because our forebears knew that land was an asset. Just in the Eastern Cape, they (forebears) fought for a 100 years for land, but this time we are not going to fight for it. Our forebears sacrificed and lost their lives so that now we can be able to get it (land) in a civilised manner,” she said, to loud applause from her audience.
“Radical means real change, it’s a break from the past. Our colonisers saw us as people who must go and get water and wood for them, and gave us education to take command and not graze in the green pastures. They saw Africa generally and South Africa (in particular) as a supplier of raw materials. Our economy is mainly like that: supplier of raw materials,” she said.
Dlamini-Zuma said the country’s economy was entrenched “in the hands of a few, who happen to be white and male. When we talk transformation, we are saying, everybody has a right to be in these spaces”
She then called for a skills revolution, saying the country had a lot of potential and identified industries that needed to be exploited in order to unlock the economic potential.
The industries included the back-breaking agriculture sector, information technology, tourism, infrastructure development and mining, among others.
She emphasised that radical economic transformation was not anti-white but “pro-South Africa. Just like gender equality is not anti-men, it’s pro-progress”.
“Our white compatriots should also be part of the radical economic transformation if they want to live in this country, peaceful and stable as it is,” said Dlamini-Zuma.
Black Business Council president Dr Danisa Baloyi said the narrative on who owned the economy needed to change, saying the economy “doesn’t belong to all of us yet”.
Dlamini-Zuma warned that implementing radical economic transformation was not going to be easy. “It’s going to need all of you professionals to work with the government, businesspeople to come up with ideas and defend those because the media is … going to attack, and we need our people to defend us. So it’s going to be tough but let’s work together,” she said.