The honourable Premier told us that the focus will be on the economy. “Economy, economy, economy” – as it was emphasized. The plan for development corridors, in which the private sector was embraced as a partner – at least in words – is a sensible one. Our economic growth has been stifled and hampered by decades of underinvestment into infrastructure for job growth. Global experience shows that a country needs to invest at least 25% of its GDP into infrastructure to achieve economic growth and create jobs. South Africa barely invests 15%, which is just above the rate required to replace existing infrastructure. This is why, as our economy grew, we ran out of roads, rail, ports and energy to support an expanding economy, let alone spur job growth. The policy and legislative framework chosen by the ANC has stifled investment, and monopolies in transport, energy and telecommunications has deterred meaningful investment in our country – pushing investors elsewhere into Africa. Perhaps it’s time the ANC sat down with policy makers from growing African economies and realised that their fundamental approach to maintaining public and private monopolies, their approach to labour, their approach to regulation and their approach to taxation is fundamentally wrong. WE have just irrevocably damaged our investment prospects with the recent announcements around land, pushing more investment north.
Until these macroeconomic factors are corrected, the ten pillars advocated by the premier will remain talk. We need decisive action on those factors to achieve jobs and growth.
Let me give you an example of all talk and no action. The premier waxed lyrical about the aerotropolis in Ekurhuleni. This was first mooted in 2010. By 2011 it became a huge ‘programme’ of the metro – and I use the word programme loosely. Five years, hundreds of millions spent and billboards, advertising, marketing and consultants later, there is nothing. Nothing to show for it. Now, the premier speaks of it as though it’s a new innovation. At the rate things happen, and with the ANCs disdain for private sector investment and their constant calls for the building of a soviet economy – which ANC members in this house keep calling for – means that it will take decades for this programme to get anywhere. In the meantime, the ANC mayor and his mayoral committee will continue to spend hundreds of millions, as they have now done for half a decade, on overseas trips, advertising and consultants at a time when the ANC government is trying to tax and e-toll every cent out of the economy.
The promotion of monopolistic behaviour by the ANC is borne out in another programme announced that recently belies the Premiers lofty ambitions – the President had, in one swift stroke, set broadband back in our country and in turn damaging growth prospects by giving Telkom a monopoly on broadband roll out – contradicting the national policy on broadband. Its funny how there was a surge in Telkom share purchases ahead of the announcement and the share price has almost tripled. It’s not the economy, economy, economy – it’s the corrupt economy. Telkom had bid for broadband projects in two provinces, governed by two parties, and lost. Now they have made it clear they are opposed to those projects they lost out on – including the Gauteng Broadband Network. If you look at how fixed line broadband has been bungled in this country, how the government promotes monopolistic behaviour against the citizens and for cronyism.
To mask this, the ANC pretends there aren’t barriers to entry. The premier blamed racial monopoly capital instead. What the premier meant to use was the white monopoly capital straw man. The reason we don’t have black industrialists is because the ANC prefers taking shares in existing big firms to enrich its ruling clique from time to time, instead of decisively transforming the economic environment so that small black businesses can compete. There is always lip service to reducing red tape before introducing more. Provided there isn’t any delays and corruption, it would take 22 days to start a small business in South Africa if you jump through all the government hoops. In New Zealand, it takes 24 hours. This is where decisive transformation needs to happen. This situation exists not because of white monopoly capital, but the ANCs policies that protect its shares in business from competition.
While I want to wish the premier well, his parties calls for a soviet economy in this house last year and his parties hatred of private investment belies his words and the existing policy environment will not allow the premier to succeed. I believe the premier gets it, I really do – this Premier is the first person in the ANC I have heard say that we need to move welfare beneficiaries into jobs – but he speaks with wisdom that the rest of his party does not have. Until they realise that his approach needs major structural approaches, it is, sadly, just talk.
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