Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba gave an economic policy lecture organised by the ANC Youth League's eThekwini region in Pinetown, Durban on Saturday. Photo: ANA/Desiree Erasmus
Durban – The vast inequality in South African society is a clear indication that the economy has yet to “escape oppression”, Finance Minister and African National Congress national executive committee member Malusi Gigaba said on Saturday.

“In 1993 it was agreed that power would be shared with the National Party and IFP [Inkatha Freedom Party] having important parts in the new government,” he said in an economic policy lecture organised by the ANC Youth League’s eThekwini region in Pinetown, Durban.

“It was agreed that white people would continue to have a say in the economy. The ANC has stayed committed to these agreements but now has come a time for change. It is time to put us first,” Gigaba said, speaking mostly in isiZulu.

“The economy is controlled by a minority; they are a monopoly. There are a lot of companies owned by very few people and the services and products on offer enrich these few people.

“At the Johannesburg Stock Exchange there are very few black-owned companies; less than five percent. I say this not to anger you but to show you the inequality in our economy.

“This means that our economy is still built on the foundations of oppression, apartheid colonial relations. Looking at how to transform the economy we must ask ourselves what steps we need to take to make the economy democratic,” he told the about 400 youth league members and supporters.

“The top one percent own 45 percent of the wealth in our country. The top 10 percent own 95 percent of the wealth in our country. We can agree that such a situation cannot remain.”

While the purpose of his talk was not on the country’s “junk status” rating it should not be taken lightly.

“[Junk status] will make it more expensive to borrow money from international bodies which will make it difficult to build infrastructure by state-owned entities and the jobs that would come with it. If this junk status continues we might find ourselves in runaway inflation, affecting the poor the most.

“We must all work together to bring the economy back in shape. We must do everything in our power to restore our investment grade.”

For the economy to work “the right way”, focus should be on changing how it was controlled. The country needed to be weaned off its reliance on minerals and focus more on investing in industries, which would allow for trade with other African states and developed and developing nations. “We must look at the industries we have and emerging industries that we can enter into,” Gigaba said.