Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas. File picture: Waldo Swiegers
PORT ELIZABETH - Former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas has warned the ruling African National Congress (ANC) not to downplay harsh economic realities in the country amid renewed optimism that came with President Cyril Ramaphosa taking office. 

Jonas addressed an ANC business breakfast in East London on Monday aimed at discussing economic challenges and opportunities in the Eastern Cape. 

He said the country was becoming increasingly racialised and warned the ruling party against using racial utterances. 

"The ANC used to be the only organisation that stood for non-racialism not just multi-racialism. But now we have seen part of [racial] utterances coming from the organisation. We are not talking as the country, we get in this space of slogans." 

Jonas said ousting former president Jacob Zuma did not translate into instant solutions for all the problems that the country faced. 

"Many commentators have described this period as the period of Ramaphoria. The message and optimism must not belie the reality that is there. The problems that we had were not the problems of an individual." 

Jonas is among those who have been roped in by Ramaphosa to raise billion dollars of investment for the country. He said that sloganeering was not going to change the problem of slow economic growth and mounting national debt. 

Jonas said that the country needed to unite towards a common vision and appoint incorruptible public servants. 

"In our fights in the organisation sometimes we using the state to fight political battles. Law enforcement have been misused by the politicians to dig out the dirt of an individual opponent," said Jonas. 

Turning to Eastern Cape, Jonas said: "The first reality we need to deal with in Eastern Cape is that most of the population lives in the former Bantustan with no infrastructure. We have not built a new town in this province after 1994, yet we have models such as how Knysna and other towns in the Garden Route were developed. Our metros remain the smallest and poorly performing economically. Another issue of our metros is inequality." 

He said that the focus of the province was more about political infighting than development. 

"In the Eastern Cape we are stronger in fighting each other than engaging in economic development. We need better engagement with national government. Why is it that only one percent of the SOE budget comes to Eastern Cape? We need a better strategy to engage national [government] to draw resources," Jonas said. 

The party also used the event to introduce its ward 18 council candidate, Andrew Sokolich, to the Buffalo City community. Sokolich wants to wrestle ward 18 which comprises of Vincent, Bunkers Hill, Nahoon Beach, Bonnie Doon and Woodleigh from the DA in a by-election on June 20, to fill a vacancy left by former DA councilor David Vianne. 

Jonas called on Buffalo City councillors to engineer new relations between business and the city. He said many businesses were leaving the metro resulting in job losses.  

African News Agency/ANA