Unemployment, corruption and poorly managed SOEs crippled economy, say opposition parties

Opposition parties say unemployment, corruption and poorly managed state-owned enterprises have crippled SA's economy. File photo.
Opposition parties say unemployment, corruption and poorly managed state-owned enterprises have crippled SA's economy. File photo.
Image: REUTERS

Opposition parties have called on the government to address unemployment, corruption and poorly managed state-owned enterprises (SOEs) which they argue are crippling the country’s economy.

“We must start from scratch. Even before Covid-19, our economy was in the doldrums. Our economy faced challenges before Covid-19. Those challenges are still here,” said UDM leader Bantu Holomisa, speaking at the Black Business Summit in Johannesburg on Thursday.

He said load-shedding was interrupting lives and businesses.

“We must grapple with these realities given that we have an unreliable power supply and that this has certainly not changed since 2020.”

Corruption, service delivery and poorly managed state-owned enterprises are the achilles heel of our economy, he said.

The Covid-19 outbreak has fuelled corruption, he added. “Our economy is not recovering. [Those in government] use the tender system to enrich themselves through PPE deals. Unemployment keeps rising and Covid-19 is putting a damper on all of it,” he said.

The mining and agricultural sectors that traditionally used to drive the economy were no longer fulfilling this function, said Holomisa.

“We need to start reviewing matters. The problem with corruption in SA is that we are not changing the narrative. There must be consequences for perpetrators of corruption. We must root out corruption.

“Paying lip service is not good enough. The corrupt must be fired, go to court and if found guilty, they must rot in jail and pay back the money.”

IFP president Velenkosini Hlabisa echoed these sentiments on corruption crippling the “already ailing” economy.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has ravaged our economy and deprived South Africans of their livelihoods,” Hlabisa said. “The IFP believes the development of an inclusive economy is an absolute priority now more than ever. We can't afford to leave anyone behind. Being an active participant in the economy speaks directly to a person’s human dignity.”

He said for the country to work, poverty needed to be alleviated and inequality redressed. “We need to empower families and fulfil the rightful aspirations of all our people and future generations.”

Unemployment, Hlabisa said, was a ticking time bomb that the country ignored at its peril.

“The Covid-19 pandemic merely served to aggravate an existing problem. The pandemic has left at least three million South Africans without employment.”

He called on the government to prioritise the development of small businesses. “The contribution made by SMMEs is key to growth and development of our economy. They are an essential part of our economy and employ almost half of SA's workforce.

“The IFP asks government to consider public-private partnership on the ailing SOEs to allow for much-needed skills and capital injection,” Hlabisa said.

DA shadow minister of finance Geordin Hill-Lewis said the country was no nearer to  economic reform and recovery.

“We have not made any progress on all the critical reforms the government has spoken about. We are going at a slow pace to reach energy reform. We have a long list of priorities, but the progress is slow. We are regressing as a country,” he said.

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