OPINION: Our society needs a radical overhaul

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Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma Picture: Danie van der Lith

JOHANNESBURG – The next few days from the 16th to 20th of December 2017, the focus of South Africans, Africa and the World will be on the much anticipated 54th African National Conference which will undoubtedly  signal a watershed moment; emerging with the First Female President of the ANC in the Person of Mama Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma. 

The near 106 years old organization has successfully fought patriarchy; recognizing and affirming the role of women in leadership long before the dawn of a democratic dispensation.  

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Mama Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma’s unavoidable ascendency to the Presidency of the ANC is largely motivated by intensified efforts to fast track  the noble plan of our movement on Radical Economic Transformation (RET) with clearly defined actions advanced to be undertaken by all  and led by decisive institutions of state in the interest of the Mass of the People of South Africa.  The ongoing execution of RET under President Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma is a call to action and the “People”s Manifesto”; with a scientific and yet practical response to their wishes and aspirations. The assimilation of an RET Approach requires all of us to appreciate that the triple challenges of inequality, poverty and unemployment are unsustainable, since they pose a set of systemic risks to our society.

In order to address these triple and interrelated challenges, a radical economic transformation is a necessity.  Anything less than that will have longer term detrimental consequences, which will have the effect of deepening these triple challenges whilst arresting South Africa from breaking form her ugly and evil colonial and apartheid past.

The path to radical economic transformation requires of us to dream more and most importantly to implement all the fundamental policies adopted by the ANC from the Freedom Charter to the policy position of a radical socio-economic transformation as adopted by 2017 chapter of the National Policy Conference. We dare not labour under mirages and false pretences that the RET programme will be easy to implement, as there are many detractors and some with promises that are self seeking, opportunistic and entirely divorced from the literature make up and posture of the National Democratic Resolution (NDR) simply put: Short Term Solutions which have no traction amongst our people. 

Populist tendencies are too myopic and at times distract from the obvious reality for self-fulfillment; for instance such self imposed detractors of a Radically Transformed Economy fail to recognise that the fight against dispossession was at the core of the formation of the African National Congress.  Consequently, the Freedom Charter (amongst other policies of the ANC), carries with it the fundamental intent of the African National Congress, that of addressing the dispossessions of our people, in a democratic and inclusive manner.  

Thus the clarion call of the Freedom Charter “the People Shall Share in the Country’s Wealth” and the assertion that “South Africa Belongs to All who Live in It, Black or White”.  Consequently, the RET Agenda which the membership of the ANC will through resolution  impose on the incoming leadership collective of the ANC to take further forward in order to change in a fundamental and substantive way, the structure, management, control, systems and institutions in favour of the majority of South Africans, who are black in general and African in particular as well as women and young people.  

This is not to say that the South Africa we envision is to the exclusion of those outside these sectors of society but a call to action for all patriotic South Africans.  In substantively redressing past and continuing injustices the collective wealth of all South Africans shall be grown and protected so that it is transmitted and sustained from one generation to the next, instead of the current reality where it is the triple challenges being transmitted.  These triple challenges often carry with them their first cousins of crime, corruption, and social exclusion. It is not incidental that where poverty, inequality and unemployment are high so are crime, corruption and social exclusion.

Some of the igniting propositions of the RET are hard core Industrialization inclusive of the 4th Industrial revolution as well as land and agrarian reform. These enabling propositions take into cognizance South Africa’s  economic structure, which has had the manufacturing sector in decline as a proportion of the total gross domestic product, since the 1980s.  Notably, this process of de-industrialization has brought in its wake massive job losses and reduced capacity of the economy to create jobs.  

Co-related to this has been the fact that most jobs are now to be found in the services sector.  However, the services sector is able to grow in a sustainable way if it is linked to a vibrant manufacturing sector.  Consequently, a key priority of the RET is therefore to reverse de-industrialization and to thereby increase the employment intensity of growth.  This will require that the contribution of the manufacturing sector to total Gross Domestic Product be raised from the current 12% to 30%.  The Manufacturers’ Circle informs us that such a growth will single-handedly deliver almost one million jobs.  

To achieve this will require key measures that aimed at reducing input costs and stimulating competitiveness in order to drive manufactured exports.  Both these fiscal and structural measures, need to be driven at a strategic level by an Inter-Ministerial and multi sectored Industrialization and Trade Commission, chaired at the level of Presidency.

Radically changing the structure of the economy also requirers altering  patterns of ownership. An economy envisaged is one anchored on shared growth and prosperity for all. One of the available instruments to drive this shared growth is public sector supply chain which should be biased towards Local Economic Development through a ring-fenced procurement spending of not less than 70% to radically facilitate enterprise development as well contribute towards meaningful shared growth.  At the same Black Industrialists must also be adequately funded inorder to take up available opportunities.  Another related intervention is mineral benefaction and the development of minerals-based value chains. The overall intention is to ensure that  that local foundries have access to sufficient raw minerals at affordable prices to support their competitiveness and to also increase manufactured exports.

A Radically Transformed Economy advanced as the People’s Manifesto is to be state-led and state directed economic transformation programme.  The responsibility to radically transform the economy goes beyond the state and  requires a society wide approach thus a call for a national economic dialogue.  The State may require fundamental restructuring and re-design inclusive of improving policy coordination, root out corruption and improve to drive effective implementation.  

The role of current State-Owned Entities (SOEs) must receive sharp focus as should the mandates, governance structures and regimes prevailing over them. To radically transform the economy also requires the necessary speed in the implementation of New SOE’s such as the State Owned Mine which will (amongst others) strengthen the role of the state in mining around certain strategic minerals such as coal, manganese, chrome, vanadium and titanium requires as well practical commitment to establish a national state bank and fast-tracking the full licensing of the Post Bank.  

Our practical measures to drive forward the Peoples Manifesto through a Radically Transformed Economy should include the  consolidation of the following: 

  • State Owned Insurance Company 
  • 100% ownership of the central bank 
  • Strengthening capacity of the state to drive development in the interest of all South Africans and not just a few. 
  • Agitate for possible Regulatory Flexibility without lowering standards in industries such as ICT, Maritime, Mining and Finance. 

The Freedom Charter proclaims that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white, yet the majority continue to own the minority of its land.  

Merchanisms should therefore be explored to ensure that the dispossessed also have a share of the land, this will include the possibility of expropriating land without compensation while promoting ownership of land by the democratic government for and in the interest of the people.  

This will not disrupt existing enterprise on the land,  priority will be on  unutilized or unoccupied and state-owned land to promote productive land utilization, be it for residential or commercial purposes.The promotion of a productive South Africa will require a review of the current model of funding development finance institutions and state-owned enterprises as well as the broad financial services sector.  All of which should be geared towards pursuing a developmental agenda.  

In this regard, the mandate of the central bank will have to be broadened to include development financing, targeting full employment, facilitating growth and price stability.  It is the interest of radically transformed economy that financial institutions contribute to development by setting aside resources to finance developmental infrastructure in order to address the legacy of unequal and uneven development between rural and urban areas, and between working class and affluent communities. 

These interventions are not new.  They have been used the world over by countries that were once faced with challenges similar to ours. Deliberate interventions will have to be undertaken to dismantle patterns of development that were deliberately created.

A Radically Transformed Economy should see the  Implementing of concrete measures to include the historically marginalized as owners and managers of enterprises in the value chains in inorder to break the barriers of white dominance and further facilitate for the creation of a fully equitable society.  The mass of black people majority of whom are socially displaced, women, youth and people with special needs should become active independent participants in value-chains, and not always be junior partners. All the levers available should be used to make sure that transformation is driven in a deliberate and directed manner, to achieve certain outcomes over a specified period.   

Other sectors with clear interventions to drive a radically transformed economy include: agriculture, the green and oceans economy, cultural and creative industry, forestry, petrochemicals and steel.  Issues of the labour market such as employment equity and compliance with labour laws; social policy issues, such as free education, health including the NHI, social protection, etc. all require serious consideration and will be linked to economic interventions.

All of this practical actions requires a society acting in unison with a common goal and agenda. A Radical Transformed Economy resonated through  the Peoples Manifesto is about the people themselves and requires society to act in unison. A united and coherent leadership of the ANC will required to take the Peoples Manifesto to its logical realization. 

Pule Mabe, is a member of the NEC but writes in a personal capacity.

The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

– BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE 

Source: IOL – Business News
OPINION: Our society needs a radical overhaul


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