The release by Statistics South Africa of the first quarter Gross Domestic Product figures (GDP), showing an astounding 3.2% contraction, is a clear indication that our country is heading backwards.
The ability of our economy to create jobs for the 10 million unemployed South Africans is severely hindered.
None can deny that the largest contraction of the economy in a decade points to a crisis in policy and its implementation, and strong leadership. That said, there is an opportunity to advance new ideas because it cannot be business as usual.
We need reforms to get South Africa working. The vision of building one South Africa for All requires a growing and inclusive economy and for its people to be working.
The DA has a plan to create jobs, specifically in the SMME sector, and we will be tabling a ‘Jobs Act’ in the National Assembly.
The Act aims to protect and support SMMEs through:
- a minimum wage exemption for specific businesses that fall into certain classifications;
- cutting unnecessary red tape for small businesses and make it easier for entrepreneurs to set up shop; and
- the creation of a special forum for dispute resolution specifically for SMMEs.
The DA is committed to working with President Cyril Ramaphosa and we hope, in the spirit of cooperation and putting the people first, that the ANC caucus will lend their support to the Act. At a time when people are looking for answers, it requires all elected public representatives to pull together and provide answers for a better future.
In order to get the economy working, we also need to look at the structure of Eskom and the accelerated introduction of the independent power producers (both of which are addressed in the DA’s Cheaper Energy Bill). We must be able to address which SOEs are contributing to the economy, and which ones are robbing it.
At the conclusion of a visit to South Africa yesterday, the International Monetary fund found that the “growth outlook will depend critically on the pace of implementation of reforms that address long-standing structural constraints. If reform implementation accelerates sufficiently to lift business confidence and jump-start private investment, growth would be reignited.”
Action is key and we have an opportunity to take decisive steps to get South Africa working.
Tomorrow, DA Leader, Mmusi Maimane will announce his Shadow Cabinet. This team will work tirelessly to put forward fresh ideas and credible alternatives to government plans, in the interest of getting South Africa working again.