South Africa will for the next five years enter a new "radical phase" where policies will have to focus more on economic transformation to address poverty, unemployment and inequality, claims President Jacob Zuma.
President Jacob Zuma says the government will focus on making SA's economy more inclusive and will speed up affirmative action. Image: GCIS
"It is a phase of focusing on economic transformation in particular. We have achieved political freedom, now we have to achieve economic freedom and ensure that the owner of the economy is de-racialised," Zuma said.
He was speaking in Parliament during a reply to the debate on the State of the Nation Address (SONA).
President Zuma delivered this year's SONA last week in Cape Town. It was the last for the current administration ahead of the elections.
He said, in his response to parliamentary debate, the New Growth Path, which promotes local manufacturing, the National Infrastructure Plan and the Industrial Policy Action Plan will continue to shape government's policy agenda.
The public gallery in the National Assembly was packed to capacity and among those attending included students. President Zuma received loud applause when he said South Africa had achieved social transformation in the past 20 years and the time had come to place emphasis on economic transformation to ensure the majority of black people also owned the economy.BBBEE Commission coming
He said work was underway to establish the BBBEE Commission which will regulate and oversee empowerment transactions related to the policy.
Zuma said that despite government employment equity policies, equity reports still indicated that the economy of the country was in the hands of the white minority.
"We must intensify the implementation of affirmative action policies in order to deepen reconciliation and social cohesion in our country. I think it is important to look at reality because this cry about affirmed action does not want to go away. It is very important that the manner in which we correct this (inequality) brings affirmative action. We need take those who were left outside and bring them into the economy," the President said.
In response to a Democratic Alliance claim that more jobs were lost in South Africa since 2009, President Zuma said all the jobs that were lost during the 2008 economic crisis have been recovered in the past five years and the economy had in fact created additional new jobs.
He said the Jobs Fund, which was created in 2011, has approved 66 projects and has committed more than R3bn rand to its successes. To date, more than 8,000 new permanent jobs have been created, and 4,000 short-term jobs were filled.
He claimed that more than 25,000 beneficiaries have received training. In addition, the development finance institutions have been directed to invest in job creating projects.
The Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) has approved more than R50bn in new industrial funding over the period of this administration. This has been for projects ranging from agro-processing, film-making, the vehicle sector, steel and engineering, clothing and textiles, mining, the green economy and tourism.
The Public Investment Corporation (PIC) has committed more than R38bn in enhancing the productivity of the real economy, through economic and social infrastructure, enterprise development and renewable energy.