11 September 2013
Despite the significant progress made in transforming the South African economy, the majority of the population remains on the margins of development, says National Planning Commission deputy chairperson Cyril Ramaphosa.
The economy created too few jobs and the majority of South Africans remained poor, Ramaphosa said during a packed lecture at Wits University in Johannesburg on Tuesday night, as he outlined the proposals contained in the country’s National Development Plan (NDP).
A policy blueprint for eliminating poverty and reducing inequality in South Africa by 2030, the NDP identifies the key constraints to faster growth and presents a roadmap to a more inclusive economy that will address the country’s socio-economic imbalances.
Ramaphosa told academics, students and civil society organisations that the NDP was the only plan that could deliver faster as well as inclusive economic growth. He said the plan took a critical and long-term perspective of the country as it outlined ways to overcome unemployment and poverty.
To boost economic growth, the plan suggests a focus on three areas in particular, namely promoting labour-absorbing industries; growing manufacturing, financial services and telecommunications; and providing a broader social wage to enable even the poorest to have a decent living.
The plan also offers clear measures for growing agro-processing and mining and supporting small business.
Ramaphosa called on those who were criticising the plan to engage on some of the proposals and agree on a process to move forward.
“We all want what is best for our people and what is best for our country. This plan is not perfect. There is no perfect plan in the world, and where there are differences, they must be resolved.”
South Africa had lower inflation and higher levels of employment since 1994, he said; the number of middle-class people had doubled to more than four-million; workers now enjoy more protection than ever before.
“We have a lot to be grateful for. The glass is not half empty but half full. We have a duty to fill that glass, and the NDP is giving us the chance to do so.”
Ramaphosa said many of the unemployed people in the country lacked the skills they needed to enter certain markets. The challenge of creating meaningful jobs would forever be present, and this was the struggle “we must engage in”, he said.