21 February 2014
South Africa will enter a new “radical phase” of economic transformation over the next five years to address poverty, unemployment and inequality, President Jacob Zuma said in Cape Town on Thursday.
Replying to the debate on the State of the Nation address in Parliament, Zuma said South Africa had achieved social transformation over the past 20 years, and the emphasis would now be on economic transformation to ensure that black people also owned the economy.
It would be a phase “of focusing on economic transformation in particular,” Zuma said. “We have achieved political freedom, now we have to achieve economic freedom and ensure that the owner of the economy is deracialised.”
He added that the New Growth Path, which promotes local manufacturing, the National Infrastructure Plan and the Industrial Policy Action Plan would continue to shape the government’s policy agenda.
Zuma said work was underway to establish a BBBEE commission to regulate and oversee empowerment transactions related to South Africa’s black economic empowerment policies. Despite the country’s employment equity policies, equity reports indicated that the economy was still in the hands of the white minority.
“We must therefore intensify the implementation of affirmative action policies in order to deepen reconciliation and social cohesion in our country. I think it is important to look at reality … to take those who were left outside and bring them into the economy.”
Responding to opposition parties’ criticisms over job creation, Zuma said they failed to give credit where it was due. All the jobs that had been lost during the 2008-09 global economic crisis had been recovered over the past five years and the economy had in fact created additional new jobs.
He said the Jobs Fund, which was created in 2011, had approved 66 projects and committed more than R3-billion to job-creating enterprises. To date, more than 8 000 new permanent jobs and 4 000 short-term jobs had been created through the fund, while more than 25 000 beneficiaries had received training.
The country’s development finance institutions, meanwhile, had also been directed to invest in job creating projects, Zuma said.
The Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) had approved more than R50-billion in new industrial funding since 2009, in projects ranging from agro-processing, film-making, the auto sector, steel and engineering, clothing and textiles, mining, the green economy and tourism.
And the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) had committed in excess of R38-billion to enhancing the productivity of the real economy through economic and social infrastructure, enterprise development and renewable energy.