Durban – The African National Congress’s election manifesto focuses heavily on turning the country’s beleaguered economy around while admitting that under the party’s watch the country has “witnessed the loss of integrity” in several key institutions.
However, the ANC has claimed credit for “tripling” the economy since 1994 - although this was proven to be incorrect by fact checking institution Africa Check just this week - and more than doubling employment numbers since 1994, growing the black middle-class, and rolling out social redistribution programmes since it took power.
The manifesto document, unveiled at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Saturday by party president Cyril Ramaphosa, dedicates at least 20 pages of the 68-page document to the economy.
Other categories included social transformation, crime prevention, gender-based violence, corruption, strengthening public institutions, building national unity, and outlining the ANC’s pan-African and global perspectives.
The manifesto notes that the “economy has not been fundamentally transformed to serve all people”, recognises that unemployment remains high at 27 percent, and that “the land question has not been fully addressed”.
“The country has obscene levels of income and wealth inequality. Gender-based violence has reached crisis proportions and drugs, violent crimes, and gangsterism are wreaking havoc in many communities. Corruption continues to raise its ugly head, threatening the very moral and ethical basis of our young democracy. Our education, training, and health systems still need radical improvements. The ANC acknowledges that we made mistakes and veered off course,” the document states. "As a nation”, the country has “learned the harsh impact of corruption on society and the economy”.
“We have witnessed the loss of integrity in some of the institutions of state, business, political, and other organisations. We have learned hard lessons about the vigilance needed to stop lawlessness, greed, and selfishness from taking root. We are resolved to work with our people to address this cancer in our society.”
However, the document states that “after a difficult time” the ANC is “on the cusp of a new era of hope and renewal”, citing a “new dawn” – a signature slogan of the current leadership.
It states that the ANC had the ability to “self-correct where mistakes have been committed” and that it is “a movement with experience in governance and a clear resolve to advance an agenda of radical socio-economic transformation” at a “brisker pace”.
To promote a developmental growth path and create more jobs, the country will need “sustainable and radical land reform and a plan to broaden ownership of the economy”.
“We must drive innovation and the digital revolution, increase levels of investment in the economy, accelerate the provision of infrastructure to support the economy and meet basic needs, transform and diversify the financial sector, consolidate support for small businesses and cooperatives, as well as grow the township and village economy.
“These interventions will be accompanied by the development of an appropriate macroeconomic framework to support the transformation of the economy to serve all people,” it says.
Since the ANC came to power in 1994, the South African economy has “seen sustained growth, tripling the size of the economy and improving the GDP per capita” and employment has grown from seven million people to 16 million. The document also notes that sustained growth is necessary for enabling “redistribution of public resources to meet the basic social needs” of the majority poor South Africans.
It says the goal is to have 24 million South Africans employed by 2030. “The black middle class has grown significantly thanks to the ANC’s progressive policies on affirmative action, black industrialisation, broad-based black economic empowerment, and gender equality,” the manifesto states.