ANC stalwart Mathews Phosa has been openly critical of President Zuma's government. File picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA
East London – South Africa urgently needs a change in political leadership and a reshaped economic policy, African National Congress stalwart Mathews Phosa said on Sunday.

Delivering the OR Tambo memorial lecture in East London, the veteran ANC member called for the resignation of President Jacob Zuma, the entire cabinet, National Assembly, and ANC national executive committee (NEC).

South Africa was in dire need of dramatic political and economic changes, he said. “At the very least we need a new political leadership, changes in our economic policy, urgent changes to our education system, and consensus between all stakeholders on how we revive the rainbow spirit in our nation.

“Our executive, under the presidents’ leadership, has long ceased to understand and illustrate that they have a sworn duty to uplift and protect the poorest of the poor. When I use the term executive, or cabinet, I do not exclude a single member, whether he or she is a minister, or deputy minister, or part of the executive presidency.”

The massive disconnect between the comfort of public representatives and the increasingly desolate voters they had to serve had become unbridgeable. The past five years had seen the political decision-makers become the ”haves” and the electorate the “have nots”.

There would be no debate about “judicial overreach” if Zuma, his cabinet, and the National Assembly took their constitutional duties, and responsibility towards the poor, seriously.

“For the president to blame, to utilise the ‘they hate me’ argument is childish, disingenuous, and in bad taste. It is time to go, Mr ‘president’. You have failed the voiceless and the most vulnerable. They will, however, find their voices at the ballot box. We are clearly at a juncture in our young liberation where we need leaders who understand that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, as well as that the poor, and not our and our friends’ already swollen pockets, should be our focus,” Phosa said.

To do that, it was necessary to:

* treat education – each and every form of it – as a national key strategic project and ask leaders from the private sector to join government to fund and execute educational programs of the highest excellence;

* redefine South Africa’s economic strategy to incentivise the private sector and foreign investors to create jobs in the short-term;

* appoint South Africa’s “very best minds” to deregularise every form of bureaucracy from the statute books;

* fast-track the public works programmes;

* appoint an independent commission of inquiry to speedily investigate all forms public sector corruption;

* re-design a number of key government agencies, such as the National Prosecuting Authority;

* fast-track the renewable energy programme; and

* ensure that key information technology programmes, such as broadband roll-out, were not imprisoned in indecision for years.

“In short: We need a change in political leadership, and at the same time a massive infusion of immediacy in the roll-out of our government programmes within the context of reshaped economic policy,” Phosa said.

African News Agency