Johannesburg - It has become clear that the economic reforms needed in South Africa cannot come from an African National Congress government stuck in the past and committed to a worldview long abandoned by the rest of the world, Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane said on Saturday.
"The ANC government’s idea of sweeping state control and state-led growth belongs in a time long gone," he said at the DA's Freedom Day celebrations in Johannesburg, during which the party also launched its proposed "Jobs Act".
"We must step into the future with an economy geared for the future. The private sector is not the enemy. They are, in fact, the heroes of job creation, and we must treat them as valued partners in this critical task," Maimane said.
Government's role was to free them up to create the millions of new jobs needed. The economy had to be decentralised and demonopolised. A far greater focus had to be placed on the role of small businesses in job creation, and cities had to be placed at the forefront of economic growth.
"It has become clear that the economic reforms we need cannot come from an ANC government stuck in the past and committed to a worldview long abandoned by the rest of the world. And so it will fall to the DA to spearhead these reforms so that we can put a job in every home.
"And we will start with the parliamentary act we are launching here today [Saturday] - the Jobs Act. This act will focus on two key areas critical to our economic recovery - foreign investment and SMMEs," he said.
The act provided for special tax incentives and property allowances for foreign companies that met certain socio-economic empowerment goals. "We will also legislate a wide range of incentives for foreign companies, which will include key areas such as industrial projects, enterprise investment, critical infrastructure, research & development, agri-businesses, and film and TV production."
In short, foreign investors would know that under a DA government South Africa would be open for business. They would find here an investment environment that was flexible and mutually beneficial.
The act also addressed many concerns that foreign investors had around the resolution of disputes in South Africa, and would give them far more peace of mind about bringing their money here.
Regarding SMMEs, the Jobs Act would protect and support this crucial sector of the economy by ensuring greater flexibility in the labour market through minimum wage exemption for businesses that fell into certain classifications. This would keep the doors open to thousands of small businesses and protect the jobs of hundreds of thousands of employees, Maimane said.
The act also looked at doing away with all unnecessary red tape that small businesses still had to comply with, as well as the creation of a special forum for dispute resolution specifically for SMMEs.
This Jobs Act would go a long way towards making South Africa not only a far more attractive and safe investment destination, but also a much easier place to start and run a small business.
"That, fellow South Africans, is how we start to reform our country. That is how we begin to undo 25 years of ANC government and rebuild South Africa into the modern, prosperous, and inclusive nation we all want it to be. But first we need to put a government in place that is willing to make these calls. A government that looks to the future, not the past. And this is where you come in.
"On 8 May, you have one important job to do - Go out and vote for a government that you know will make a difference. Not one that tries to divide us into separate corners. Not one that steals from poor South Africans. Not one that only has plans and policies from a bygone era.
Vote for a government of honest, capable and caring men and women. A government that has already shown it has what it takes to build One South Africa for All. Vote DA," Maimane said.
African News Agency/ANA