The following speech was delivered today in the National Assembly by DA Member of the Finance Committee, Gwen Ngwenya MP.
South Africa’s growth has been revised downwards from 1.5% to 0.7%. Mindful of the fact that our economic prospects are an important basis of our fiscal strategy, an effective diagnosis of the problem is required.
We are fed folk tales about the villains of growth, about intangible third forces who are responsible for our economic malaise.
We are told by the minister that “poor services and corruption have hit the poor hardest”. By whom have the poor been hit by corruption and poor services? Who is this villain that lurks in the shadows without a name?
Often, we are told the villain is historical injustice that continues to haunt us. In other words, the atrocities predating 1994.
But what has happened since 1994?
- The unemployment rate of those aged 25-34 stands at 52.8%;
- The 2016 PIRLS study revealed that 78% of children by the fourth year of schooling cannot read for comprehension;
- 1 in 4 children are stunted, thwarting their lifelong economic prospects; and
- For every R1 earned by a white household in 1996, a black household earned 23c, but for every R1 earned by a white household in 2017, the average black household earned 20c
Therefore, we cannot speak of historical injustice without including the injustice of the last two decades. Our recent history has brought us a modern villain: a party which fought for political liberation only to sentence its people to a pervasive economic incarceration.
The minister could not name this villain, alluding only to its deeds: corruption, wasteful expenditure, bad policy. In 2009 the people of the Western Cape called the villain out by name – the ANC – and its people have reaped the benefits ever since. Between the first quarters of 2017 and 2018, 75% of all new jobs were created in the DA-run Western Cape.
SA cannot deal with a problem it cannot name. It’s time the minister, and all South Africans, call the thief of opportunity, the thief of growth, and the thief of jobs by name.