The solution to the rising unemployment, deepening poverty and other socio-economic problems lies with economic viability and constant growth. Members of the National Assembly (NA) shared ideas in a debate recently in the NA, on how to improve the capacity of the South African economy and make it inclusive, under the topic: “Building a developmental state capable of growing an inclusive economy that creates jobs”.

Members of the NA debated in the NA the opportunities and possibilities of the economic growth taking into account all the other ideas, including Minister Tito Mboweni’s economic growth plan that says among other things: “South Africa’s current economic trajectory is unsustainable, economic growth has stagnated, unemployment is rising, and inequality remains high.”

Participating in the debate, Mr Geordin Hill-Lewis of the Democratic Alliance called on the Members of the NA to support Mr Tito Mboweni’s proposed economic growth plan. He said the response to the proposals requires forging new partnerships and crossing of past political divisions and acrimonies. He appealed for one conception of the future.

He said there is a conception that says it is possible to build a prosperous future for all South Africans. “That we can do by recognising that only growth can lift people out of poverty into work, and that only growth can provide the tax revenue necessary to deliver the services the poor need the most,” he said.

He said the NA and the entire Parliament is united on the conception of the future of the South African economy. He said he doesn’t hesitate to support the growth strategy of Mr Mboweni. “We can quibble about the details here and there, but why do so when the country is on the brink?” asked Mr Hill-Lewis.

He said what matters in the strategy is the fact that it pro-growth, pro-jobs and underpinned by open society of opportunities.

Also taking part in the debate, Ms Judith Tshabalala of the African National Congress (ANC) highlighted the commitment of the ANC in the growth of the South African economy. She reminded Members of the NA about the seven apex priorities of the ANC to take South Africa forward. Among those priorities is economic transformation and job creation.

Ms Tshabalala emphasised the importance of state-owned entities (SOEs) in the implementation of the seven priorities. She said the productivity and commercial viability of SOEs remain a matter of critical importance and must, she said, be informed by a comprehensive approach to industrialisation. “This is not only the responsibility of the government but, it is a collective responsibility of all the stakeholders involved,” she said.

She also mentioned the importance of infrastructure development, which she said is critical in growing the economy. On special economic development zones, she said over the past 25 years, the government has worked towards the revitalisation of the township and rural economies. She said the creation of the Ministry for Small Business Development is an indication of the government’s commitment to economic development.

Mr Shaun August of the GOOD Party said the mandate of the government is to create conditions that are favourable for economic growth, investment, new businesses, and good space for companies to invest even in poorer areas for the creation of employment. However, he said given the state of corruption in government, the envisaged conditions can’t prevail. “We need to fix the way our government works,” he said.

By Mava Lukani
4 September 2019