By Adil Nchabeleng
The promise for a Better life for all in South Africa was the dream that we all had when apartheid ended and all South Africans voted for the first time in 1994. The hope was that South Africa would be transformed into a promised land of the free. A land where black and white, coloureds and Indians would all live together and share the wealth of the land and the country’s economic prosperity and democratic miracle.
I had a dream that kids of all colours would live and go to school in communities of their choice. A South Africa where townships would be a legacy of an apartheid past. A country where all black people could afford to live a better life and move to prosperous communities and suburbs of their choice. Where everyone was equal and lived in a peaceful, crime free, united multiracial prosperous wealthy society.
That dream never materialised. South Africa today is the opposite of the dream. With all tried and tested and failed policies South Africa today is at a cross-roads economically. The dream for a better life for all has long been shattered. And only the few in South Africa enjoy a better life with obscene wealth. That is why there is need for a radical change in South Africa.
The call for Radical Economic Transformation by President Jacob Zuma and the endorsement of the programme by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa together with the recent support by Former President F.W. De Klerk is a clear sign that economic policy tidal waves are finally turning. The call for radical transformation is a key milestone for the South African economy which is in much need of transformation, if it is to achieve great levels of economic growth and economic empowerment.
The RET programme is taking head-on South Africa’s triple challenge of poverty, inequality and unemployment. It is the only hope in today’s economy for uplifting the quality of life for struggling poor majority black people and the grassroots masses living in township and rural villages. Although the programme has great intentions, investors, the capital markets and other spheres of SA’s economic drivers are sceptical about this programme and have been resistant and unsupportive.
South Africa can no longer go on as if it is business as usual. Radical Economic Transformation program is, decisive, fast paced and economically unapologetic, but attitudes must change. The ANC as the ruling party, government and business should make a commitment and take a bold step to uplift and empower economically marginalised black people and lift them out of unbearable poverty and squalor.
We have to bear in mind that radical economic transformation is not a new policy plan it is a radical programme of action that aims to fast track the pace of economic transformation. The focus is on the word “radical” action so as to achieve economic transformation and growth. SA has vast amounts of wealth in natural resources, human capital. But that wealth is not shared amongst the people.
RET must be driven by clearly, visible, tangible, measurable and achievable objectives and results. If not the programme will collapse and in the process the dream for a better life for all South Africans will again fade away.
The challenge right now is that very little has been defined in terms of what must constitute the programme for a radical economic transformation. Many organisations and institutions in support of the programme are starting to grapple with this opportunity. There is a lot of confusion and decision makers are all talking past each.
My view is that South Africa must not waste too much time formulating yet new policy plans which may fail in due course, when SA already has enough economic transformation policies and legislation that remains un-implemented today. There are ready policies, programmes and strategic plans within government that need to be prioritised for implementation. And civil society, business and the private sector should join hands in support of Government in driving and implementing the programme.
The Government has a 9 Point Plan which is a highly structured and a variety of ready to implement projects and policy programmes that range in priority. This must be the target priority.
The 9 Point Plan focusing on: 1) Resolving the energy challenge. 2) Revitalising Agriculture and the Agro-processing value chain. 3) Advancing beneficiation (adding value to our mineral wealth). 4) More effective implementation of a higher impact IPAP. 5. Encouraging private-sector investment. 6. Moderating workplace conflict. 7. Unlocking the potential of SMMEs, cooperatives, townships and rural enterprises. 8. Boosting the role of state-owned companies, information and communication technology infrastructure and broadband roll-out, water, sanitation and transport infrastructure. 9. Operation Phakisa, which is aimed at growing the ocean economy and other sectors. Should be used as a catalyst for radical economic transformation.
And other government programmes ranging from policies, legislation and Department’s Strategic objectives and plans. The opportunities for economic growth and radical economic growth are endless, the problem is South Africa just lacks the imagination. The following are easy pick target opportunities for RET and ways to grow the economy:
- Broader economic Infrastructure (Roads, Rail, Airports and Ports development)
- Education and Edu-Infrastructure (schools, technical colleges, universities infrastructure and connectivity),
- Social and Economic Infrastructure in Housing, healthcare, Civic, Recreation
- Rural Industrial development and Rural development
- Digital & Content Economy, Film and Television, ICT & Telecommunications
- Innovation and Technology; Bulk technology services infrastructure
- Infrastructure in Energy and Electricity, water, sanitation and waste management
- Minerals Resources, Beneficiation, Manufacturing and development of Supplies SMME’s Industries;
- Finance, Capital, Banking and Financial Services Industry
- Property Industry, Commercial, Industrial, Retail, Residential property developments
- Agriculture, Farming, Aqua culture and Forestry;
- Retail Industry Goods Suppliers, Warehousing, Wholesalers, Retail stores, Spazas & Community Mini Marts
- Import and Export of goods and services, clearing and warehousing
- Transport Sector opportunities
- Fuel and Chemicals Industries and sector
- Tourism and Leisure industry; Art and culture and heritage sector.
- Research, Academic research, and Publishing literature industry
- Legal and Accounting services sector
- The Judiciary and Legal sector, Legal, legal support services, judiciary development
The list can go on-and-on and the opportunities are countless. I have just selected a few sectors and industries from top of mind with possibilities to kick start radical economic transformation into action. These opportunities will create new jobs, develop skills, attract capital and investment and unlock economic transformation economic growth. But to realise this opportunities government and the private sector must work hand in hand to in building the economy.
The RET programme must produce extreme and fundamental changes within the socio-economic and political landscape changing the way things have been done traditionally. It must be implemented with speed and urgency. The State must act decisively and work to unlock blockages and the red tape constraining economic transformation and economic development.
The State, all other organs, and institutions of government including the 700 plus SOE’s companies owned by the state should come to the table to contribute in the successful implementation of this programme.
The three spheres of power namely a) the Legislative, b) Executive and the, c)Judiciary, these spheres of power must be the key main levers that drives radical economic transformation and growth private sector investment will expand the value of economic growth.
The first area must be that government departments must now accelerated the pace of implementation on empowerment and economic policies. Department programmess, budgets and grants should be used towards uplifting and empowering emerging small micro medium enterprises.
Major projects within the departments, that are awaiting approval, must be prioritised and approved but that spend should be directed towards black communities and enterprises. The departments and ministers in charge must bring to the table their plans as contribution share for radical economic transformation.
They must contribute their departmental programmes and projects together with departments assisting in fast tracking the development, facilitation, oversight and regulatory supervision and enforcement assistance to ensure successful delivery of economic transformation.
Even Opposition parties are welcome to contribute constructive criticism and oversight while the plans are being implemented. There are enough areas of mutual interest for parties to come together to achieve the goal of growing the economy. If achieved, this programme will usher in a new day and reality in South Africa. The much long awaited economic dream and prosperity. Let’s get to work.