The DA’s Mmusi Maimane, one of the leaders who aims to replace President Cyril Ramaphosa as president of South Africa, doesn’t think that Ramaphoria has quite panned as many had thought it would. He, nevertheless, gave the president a pass: 60 percent, or six out of 10.
“Indeed, his first 100 days have been underwhelming, as South Africans have rightfully expected much more from the President,” Maimane told a press briefing at Nkululeko House in Gauteng.
“We remain stuck in a jobs crisis, while our country is not safe from crime, and our politicians continue to commit acts of corruption and nepotism. All while living conditions of South Africans have not changed. Tax is up, jobs are dying, petrol is increasing, and food is becoming unaffordable,” said Maimane, who is Leader of the Opposition and leader of the Democratic Alliance, the second biggest political party in South Africa.
On the plus side, the new president had signalled an intent to move South Africa in the right direction. “Small cosmetic changes, such as the appointment of four investment envoys to attract foreign investors to South Africa; signing long-delayed renewable energy contracts worth $4.7 billion with Independent Power Producers (IPPs); a proposed Youth Employment Service (YES); and the appointment of Nhlanhla Nene as Minister of Finance are all examples of such.”
However, Maimane said there were still policies in place “that will always act as a barrier to growth and job creation. Until he deals with such policies, we will continue our low-growth, high-unemployment trajectory for the foreseeable future”.
This had seen the number of unemployed South Africans increase during the first months of the Ramaphosa Presidency, from 9,216 million in the previous quarter to 9,481 million.
If Ramaphosa is serious about revitalising our economy and ensuring jobs are created, he should at once:
- Reverse the 1 percentage point VAT hike;
- Upgrade the current Employment Tax Incentive (ETI) to a full Youth Wage Subsidy;
- Introducing a National Civilian Service year, to provide work experience for the approximately 78 443 unemployed matriculants (from the class of 2016 alone) to enter into work-based training in the community healthcare, basic education or SAPS fields;
- Reverse the decision to cut the Competition Commissions budget, as the Commission is crucial to reducing the concentration of the economy and allowing small businesses to flourish;
- Institute a review of all labour legislation, with a view to liberalise the labour market, making it easier to employ people;
- Amend B-BBEE legislation to include internships, bursaries, and funding of schools as legitimate empowerment;
- Reject the proposed amendment of section 25 of the Constitution to expropriate all land without compensation, which creates uncertainty and volatility in the economy;
- Ensure that the 100 000 unpaid invoices, worth over R7.7 billion, between government departments and small businesses are paid;
- Adopt a City-led economic growth agenda, focusing on cities as the drivers of growth and job creation; and
- Reconsider a blanket National Minimum Wage, which favour the employed at the expense of the unemployed and will cost at least 700 000 jobs, killing many small businesses.
Maimane argued that countries "rise and fall on the strength of their economies, and this holds especially true for the developing world. Just tinkering at the edges, with a talk shop here and a summit there, will not fundamentally restructure the economy to create jobs. The President still has a long way to go when it comes to the economy".