The Inclusive Growth Oversight Summit that was held at Parliament yesterday to assess how women can participate in South Africa’s Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan, considered various policy frameworks and imperatives needed to achieve inclusive growth and alleviate the plight of women.

In his opening address, the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Mr Lechesa Tsenoli, proclaimed that the summit stood in solidarity with the world yesterday against another pandemic: gender-based violence.

This summit sought to come up with ideas on how the three spheres of governance can utilise their interrelated yet independent and distinct constitutional mandates to come up with oversight framework to deal with this scourge, the Deputy Speaker said. He quoted the late Cuban President, Mr Fidel Castro, to convey the gist of his message. He said: “The condition for full development of women in society needs a material base and the economic development of women should be used as such base.

“We have witnessed unacceptable levels of violence, poverty, unemployment and inequality endured by women and hope that the New Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan is sufficiently responsive to all these ills that women endure.”

A representative from the United Nations Development Programme, Dr Ayodele Adusola, gave a broad contextual analysis of the impediments to inclusive growth. One of these is the low levels of growth and continued disinvestment in the economy. He also decried what he referred to as “big companies’ syndrome” from which the South African economy is suffering. “The over concentration and dominance of the South African economy by big corporates has stifled inclusive economy over time because it has squeezed out small and medium enterprise from economic activity, most of whom create jobs for less skilled labour force currently unemployed.”

He blamed this on the over-regularisation of the South African economy, which impeded growth and investment. “There is a need to liberate the South African economy from over regularisation in sectors such as banks and telecommunication to allow for new entrants in these markets to stimulate growth and investment.”

He commended the inception of the New Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan as a step in a right direction. “If its intent to engage and preserve, recover and reform, reconstruct and transform can be followed through, it can translate into concrete development.”

He said this calls for need to move from strategy to action to have policy directives that are risk proof and can withstand any economic shock waves in future. According to him the new economic plan should be supplemented by a capable state. “The building of a capable state is one of the prerogatives needed to bring about inclusive growth and to arrest state capture. To create an ideal environment for the new plan.”

This imperative “would ensure that state-owned enterprises play a critical role in contributing to the ideals of the new economic plan.” He also flagged the link between skills and education as a critical contributing factor to economic growth. “South African education system must ensure that it produces graduates that are needed by its labour market.”

He further illustrated how the United Nations Development Programme contributes towards inclusive growth in South Africa. “We have incepted an entrepreneurship hub for young graduates that exposes them to skills of entrepreneurial innovation, and banks for funding and markets to sell their products. We hope this will in a long run contribute to inclusive growth and curb youth unemployment and wealth inequality.”

By Abel Mputing
26 November 2020