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BOKAMOSO | SONA: The State against the Nation

The ANC has turned against South Africa. That much was clear before Zuma uttered a single word of his State of the Nation Address last Thursday.

The empty, barricaded streets around Parliament, the razor wire and riot police on every corner, the soldiers with automatic rifles patrolling the red carpet, the snipers on the rooftops – that really said it all. The ANC sees the people as the enemy because they have become the enemy of the people.

South Africans should be very clear about President Zuma’s agenda. He is motivated by one consideration only: the need for his faction in the ANC to stay in power after 2019 in order to keep him in riches and out of jail. This requires him to keep feeding and growing the ever-hungry public-private partnership that is his Zupta patronage network.

Look beyond the empty rhetoric and tired rehash of old failed policies and this becomes crystal clear. Under the pretext of prioritising “radical socio-economic transformation” he justifies increased state control in order to push through policies that are designed solely to enrich his political and business cronies. His real project is to facilitate and accelerate large-scale massive intensified corruption.

“… government will utilise to the maximum, the strategic levers that are available to the State. This includes legislation, regulations, licensing, budget and procurement as well as Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment charters to influence the behaviour of the private sector and drive transformation.”

By giving radical economic transformation a sense of great urgency, he is looking to bypass the normal checks and balances that slow down or block the flow of corrupt deals to his network. Zuma would have us believe the MPRDA Bill and proposed State Mining Company will benefit the people. In reality, they will provide ANC cronies with lucrative mining deals while harming SA by deterring investment and threatening thousands of jobs.

He corrupts noble causes like land reform and black economic empowerment for the benefit of the ANC elite. He’d have us believe that a switch to expropriation will speed up the transfer of land to millions of black South Africans. In reality, he is hoping to expedite narrow-based land deals like the Limpopo farm that Agriculture Minister Gugile Nkwinti lined up for two ANC friends. The deal, reported in last week’s Sunday Times, ploughed through R130 million of public money, while 31 farm workers went unpaid and a productive farm fell into disrepair.

He packages a scaled-up system of legislated bribes as driving transformation through an accelerated BBBEE programme. In reality, the new procurement regulations published on 20 January 2017 completely abandon the best aspects of the previous policy. They erase the requirements for business to contribute to finding and mentoring young black entrepreneurs and helping them access supply chains. They erase the requirements for business to contribute to education, to training their workers, to buying locally, to giving their workers a stake in the company. All to smooth the flow of tenders to the right cronies. The ultimate effect will increase broad-based theft: each and every South African will pay even more for roads, classrooms, electricity, water, transport and thousands of other goods and services.

This is not the state of the nation. This is the state against the nation. Zuma’s populist radical economic transformation is a devious divide and rule tactic that will only impede the inclusive economic growth we urgently need if we are to tackle poverty and inequality.

Poor South Africans should be his central concern. Instead, they have become his sacrificial lambs. Their futures are being sacrificed on his twin alters of political expedience and personal wealth accumulation. No group will suffer more acutely than our 5,7 million unemployed youth (South Africans aged 15-34), a number that has grown by a staggering 340 000 in the past year. Over 2 million of them have given up even looking for work. They are our lost generation, their futures surrendered to Zuma’s self-serving agenda.

What they need from government is a determined and intensified effort to give them the education and skills they need to be productive adults. And a government committed to opening up opportunities for them to get ahead by driving inclusive, private sector led economic growth. The DA puts young people front and centre of our policies, which I outlined in my SONA reply speech in the National Assembly on Tuesday.

SA needs a government that works with and for the people; a government that builds trust by promoting the public good; a government that takes SA forwards and brings hope to the lost generation. The DA will be that government.

Mmusi Maimane
DA Leader

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