ACDP says most telling reason for our poor economic performance is undoubtedly reckless decision-making by President Zuma

Subject for discussion: Defining the strategy that will give necessary impetus to tangible economic growth
Speech by Steve Swart, MP

“Thank you, Chairperson, Deputy President,

The ACDP welcomes this debate. There can be no doubt that stimulating economic growth is crucial to address unemployment, poverty and inequality, given that the country is in a technical recession. We are on record for supporting the National Development Plan which was accepted by most of us in this house and the broader South African society, and of course, we now see the 14-point plan and other plans. Surely we should focus on the NDP - the main focus of which was to stimulate economic growth and to create jobs. The question arises then, why have we struggled to stimulate economic growth?

There are a number of reasons for this and for why we are now in a technical recession. One can blame weak domestic consumer demand, declining resource prices internationally, and even the recent drought that has affected food prices. However, in our view, the most telling reason for our poor economic performance is undoubtedly reckless decision-making by President Zuma and certain members of his Cabinet which have resulted in policy and regulatory uncertainty.

One need only consider the impact that the recent Mining Charter and the putative moratorium on the granting of prospecting and mining licences has had on the mining industry. These steps resulted in an outcry from both the mining companies and labour movements alike and are an example of where policy uncertainty in the mining industry has resulted in the loss of many jobs.

It is very clear that government decision-makers seems to be more occupied with domestic party politics in the run-up to the majority party’s December conference than with effective economic and policy management. Policy and political uncertainty will appear, regrettably, to be the “new normal” for the country – at least until the December conference.

Earlier this year, just when we saw promising green shoots of economic recovery, a strengthening currency, and good cooperation between government, business and labour, we faced the infamous midnight Cabinet reshuffle (referred to by previous speakers) – where good ministers such as the honourable Pravin Gordhan and Derek Hanekom were fired, whilst, in our view, incompetent ministers (such as Ms Bathabile Dlamini and Ms Faith Muthambi) were retained – this seemingly to satisfy the whims of the Gupta family and their friends – to brazenly pursue the goals of state capture.

Now we also see the challenges that our SOE’s are facing and the state capture relating to Eskom in particular highlighted by the Public Protector’s report. What is encouraging is to see Parliament flexing its muscles as we did on the Ad Hoc Committee on the SABC board inquiry.

The ACDP believes that this can be taken forward and that that the Public Enterprises committee’s intended inquiry into Eskom bodes well for good governance for our SOE’s. So, we can take heart as we exercise effective oversight.

I thank you.”