Mmusi Maimane writes that One South Africa Movement has come up with an economic recovery plan post Covid-19 in the absence of a comprehensive plan from the government.
On Thursday I launched the One South Africa (OSA) Movement’s economic recovery plan entitled “Review, Repurpose, Rebuild, Reform: A bold plan to turn SA’s fortunes around”.
The plan is a comprehensive set of specific interventions which seek to build a stronger, revitalised South Africa in the challenging post-Covid-19 years. I do believe that in the absence of any credible plan from the government, ordinary citizens must stand up and drive change from the ground up.
Already in a technical recession when the Covid-19 virus hit our shores, South Africa had little respite to stave off the repeated blows to the economy and our workforce. And the indicators are grim and unsettling to recite.
It is predicted that our GDP will contract by approximately 11.5% for 2020, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Broad unemployment is at 42%, with 2.2 million more people joining the ranks of the unemployed during the months April to June this year. Two out of every three people of working age in South Africa are now unemployed. This is a ticking timebomb requiring urgent and deliberate action.
Debates on whether government’s hardline approach to lockdown was correct or not are now academic. Political mudslinging over such matters solves nothing. Rather, we must adopt a mode of pragmatism that objectively assesses the current situation and offers the most practical ways to remedy it.
New economic reform
The true test of leadership is not in putting out fires, but in rebuilding amid the damage and despair. South Africans are tired of vague plans without timelines and KPI’s that are implemented and monitored. Now is the time to break with the old and usher in a new model of economic reform.
We have to build an economy upon which we can see unemployment reduced, especially among young people, ensure that we build infrastructure that enhances trade, and build a competent state. We have to be attractive to investment, repatriate capital to South Africa and strengthen investment. It is now time to act.
Our recovery plan requires four approaches to the economy and the state at large: review, repurpose, reform and rebuild. In this light, we argue the following 20 interventions – at least – are required to change South Africa’s fortunes and place us on the right track towards a better future.
Firstly, on corruption, we must:
- establish specialised corruption court to investigate and prosecute both public and private sector corruption
- implement continuous forensic lifestyle audits of all politicians and government officials
- institute a minimum sentence of 15 years for those convicted of corruption
- increase transparency in the tender process by introducing an online and accessible system
Secondly, on the economy, we must:
- place an immediate cap on Debt-to-GDP spending via a debt ceiling
- sell equity on SAA and broaden the energy market include a diversity of companies and countries.
- regionalize the energy sector by incentivising regional bio gas such as the Mozambique gas project, and wind and solar projects
- revitalise SADC region trade and development relations similar to the ASEAN development partnership model
Thirdly, on job creation, we must:
- create a “jobs and justice fund” to replace BEE and distribute funds from businesses to real empowerment initiatives, such as bursaries, mentorship programmes and apprenticeships. We have to urgently address both income and asset inequality. We must ramp up shareholding in SOEs and property ownership process for South Africans still excluded.
- build a “start-up nation” by overhauling funding and regulation of SMMEs, particularly access to capital and the stringent rules governing employment
- introduce a voluntary post-matric public service year to allow matriculants entry into work-based training, gaining valuable work experience while earning a small salary
- increase the amount of tax rebates available to incentivise job creation and skills training by business
Fourthly, on education, we must:
- create an independent Office of Inspector-General of Education to investigate waste, improve effectiveness of public spending on education and address disproportionate power of education unions
- incentivise private sector funding to previously disadvantaged schools via tax rebates
- release high-demand spectrum to lower data costs and increase access to online resources for young people
- implement ongoing training and examining of teachers via training colleges
And finally, on state reform, we must:
- cut the number of government departments and ministries to 10 “super ministries”
- introduce incentive-based salary schemes for all public sector employees to reward top performers
- launch a national recruitment drive to attract the best talent and skill for public service
- pass the Direct Elections Bill to allow independent candidates to run for public office
Today we face a future of great uncertainty. We must think afresh and build a state agile to reform for the future. It is going to require grit, mettle and unity of purpose to fight our way out of this economic disaster, and we believe the implementation of this plan is the answer to our current ills.
OSA activists will take this plan to communities in every corner of the country, engaging and recruiting South Africans to traverse the politics of division and truly build One South Africa.
– Mmusi Maimane is the chief activist of the One South Africa Movement.
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