The DA welcomes the decision by the Speaker of the National Assembly (NA), Thandi Modise, to grant my request for an urgent debate of public importance on South Africa’s jobs crisis. The DA will use Parliament’s debate of national importance on the jobs crisis to table our “Economic Recovery Plan” – a comprehensive package of reform interventions that are unashamedly pro-growth, pro-investment, and pro-job creation.
This “Economic Recovery Plan” will include the following proposals, among others:
- Splitting Eskom into two separate entities while allowing IPPs to come on board by passing the ISMO Bill;
- Rejecting the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill that threatens to collapse our health sector;
- Immediately placing SAA under business rescue;
- Beginning the rollout of a Voluntary Civil Service Year for young people;
- Cutting the Public Sector Wage Bill; and
- Creating an enabling environment for job creation by freeing up micro enterprise and relaxing labour legislation.
Our country’s economy is in a dire state and on the verge of passing the point of no return – which we may never fully recover from. Urgency is now more vital than ever, and I implore Parliament’s programming committee to set a date for this debate at the soonest available opportunity.
The ANC government has made history again – albeit for the wrong reasons – as the number of South Africans without a job has now crossed the dreaded 10 million threshold, with an expanded unemployment rate of 38.5%. Despite longwinded promises of reform from Mr Ramaphosa, we have seen no noticeable improvement in the economy, the unemployment rate, and the living conditions of ordinary South Africans.
Instead, since Mr Ramaphosa assumed the Presidency, 746 000 more South Africans have joined the ranks of the unemployed. Ramaphosa appears to either have no plan to fix this crisis, or no power to do so within his own party. We cannot continue along this path any longer, we need urgent and wholescale reform.
In the two weeks since the StatsSA confirmed that 10.2 million South Africans are now without a job, neither the President nor the ANC government has taken action and put forward a concrete plan. Two weeks ago I therefore also wrote to the President to establish an economic crisis recovery plan with relevant government stakeholders and political parties to reform the economy, Eskom and stem the jobs losses. I am yet to hear back from the President.
Parliament must now rise to the occasion and play its part during this leadership vacuum. The debate will need to address unsustainable levels of government spending; how to stop runaway bailouts to mismanaged SOEs such as Eskom; the size and growth of the Public Sector wage bill; and how to stimulate both local and foreign investment. Investors have lost all confidence in this government and are selling South African assets at an unprecedented rate. If we fail to stop this trend we will soon be staring down the barrel of an International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout.
South Africa is fast running out of time. In order to avoid economic collapse, we need a clear, concrete plan for urgent reform. The DA will table such a plan during this debate, and will work hard to gain support for this plan across party lines.
Only the DA can manage the real problems South Africa faces. The DA’s governance track record speaks for itself. Where we govern, we govern well, get stuff done and have a solid agenda with workable solutions. Our approach to the economy is no different.