Faster land reform and broad participation are central to radical economic transformation being to be realised, writes JESSIE DUARTE
The ANC is the only party in South Africa committed to societal change through real and sustainable economic transformation which benefits every South African.
It is a long-term view and real change does not and has not happened overnight.
The aim continues to be one that fundamentally reverses the extreme inequalities engineered and engendered by apartheid.
This means empowering black people, especially Africans, eliminate poverty, generate jobs or job opportunities.
We have a long way to go and the ANC is not blind to the challenges the country faces and that change, as mentioned earlier, is not an overnight process, but the recognition of a longer road that needs to be travelled.
Gains made so far have been in the areas of basic services and in macroeconomic stabilisation, but real economic transformation is a long way from being realised.
One area of particular concern has been the slow pace at which land ownership has been taking place.
The issue of land ownership is central to the development of South Africa’s democracy and part of any economy is the ownership of productive assets.
The process of allocating redistributed land to its rightful owners has taken too long.
One of the most fundamental historical injustices is the systematic dispossession of our people’s land. The challenges of poverty, inequality, and unemployment have their roots in the vast tracks of land that were stolen from the indigenous people of South Africa. The speed of land reform and levels of support for emerging farmers must be radically accelerated.
Disputes between indigenous groups, cultural groups have made the issue even more challenging, but the ANC is more than confident that the government will see to it that all allocated land will be put to productive use.
The ANC is determined to follow through on the ideals of what the party’s mandate has always been: justice on all fronts for all the people of South Africa.
As a developmental state, economic transformation will require a range of policy options with a fierce commitment to social justice.
The party advocates for a mixed economy which would harness the role of the state, private sector, cooperatives, small and medium enterprises and the informal sector in shaping the growth of the economy.
Therefore, broader participation in the economy in every aspect should be encouraged and channeled so as to benefit us all.
The ANC believes that the country needs a private sector that acts in the national interest and contributes to the attainment of the national goals of eradicating poverty, unemployment, and inequality.
It is imperative that the levels of cooperation between government and business be improved. It is equally important that the levels of cooperation and partnership between labour, government, civil society and the private sector is improved and revised given future challenges and opportunities.
This requires consistent dialogue that results in positive action.
Going forward, we must enter into a social compact and deepen the partnership between labour, government, civil society and the private sector. In this regard, we call on the NGO sector to play a more meaningful role in shaping and defending progressive policies and to offer their expertise to the ANC when it shapes policies.
South Africa remains one of the most unequal in the world – it is ranked among the top five unequal countries globally with a Gini-co-efficient of 0.63.
Given the current slowdown in the global markets and its effect on emerging economies like South Africa, it has become more important to ensure proper fiscal management and prudent use of public money.
The ANC will continue to advocate for sustained social and economic progress by encouraging the government to focus on the identified developmental priorities.
But we believe the long-term goals set out by the National Development Plan hold the key to unlocking and transforming the South African economy and by extension positively impacting the lives of all South Africans.
Infrastructure expansion, economic growth, and overall development require specific skills.
We need more engineers, more artisans, more qualified teachers and health professionals, to name but a few.
One of the most integral parts of advancing prosperity is a society in which small businesses and co-operatives flourish.
But these do not happen in a vacuum. We encourage young people to seek vocational careers, call on South Africans to buy local, to support small businesses and above all to work together to help transform this great country of ours.
Duarte is Deputy Secretary-General of the ANC