Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane has implored President Cyril Ramaphosa to establish an economic crisis recovery plan.
This after Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) on Tuesday released unemployment figures for the second quarter showing that as many as 10.2 million people do not have a job or have given up looking for a job, with the expanded unemployment rate climbing to 38.5%.
In a statement on Wednesday, Maimane said these figures are “symptomatic of an all-out economic crisis”.
The DA leader said another reason why Ramaphosa should establish an economic crisis recovery plan was the announcement made by Eskom on Tuesday that it had recorded a R20.7 billion loss this past year, after-tax.
“Almost 24 hours have now passed since yesterday’s devastating news of double blows to our economy, and president Ramaphosa has done nothing to address the nation or provide leadership at this time,” Maimane said.
He said because of this “double blow” to the country’s economy he on Tuesday wrote to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Thandi Modise, to call for an urgent debate “of national importance” on the “unemployment crisis”.
“I acted immediately yesterday, but the president of our republic has remained silent and is nowhere to be seen or heard on this crisis,” Maimane said.
He added that he would now write to the president imploring him to establish an economic crisis recovery plan with relevant government stakeholders and political parties to reform the economy, Eskom and stem the jobs losses.
“Both South Africans, and potential investors, need to hear this certainty at this time,” Maimane said.
He added: “The country expects leadership from its president, and urgent action to reform our state-owned enterprises.”
The DA’s position is that the president must announce the splitting up of beleaguered Eskom into two, selling off SAA and non-essential assets at the SABC, reforming the country’s labour laws by slashing red tape to allow more businesses to create jobs, and replacing the national minimum wage with a sectoral minimum wage, the party’s leader said.
“Investors will not invest if they do not feel safe and we, therefore, need to devolve the powers of our police and rail services to provincial governments to ensure that South Africans have a safe and efficient work commute.”
Despite Maimane’s claims that Ramaphosa has not shown leadership, the DA leader says he wants to work with the president.
“What I want to offer to President Ramaphosa is that solutions to save our economy are available, based on interventions that have already worked in governments across South Africa where the DA governs. The President needs to enable governments that are achieving growth against all economic odds to inform a national strategy around what local economies are doing best,” Maimane said.
He said the lowest expanded unemployment rate in the country of 23.8% remains in the DA-led Western Cape against the National average of 38.5%.
Working together, according to Maimane, would entail Ramaphosa adopting similar policies to the ones the DA has implemented in local government.
Where he “is acting in the interest of the people of South Africa, the DA will work with him. Partisanship needs to be set aside as we implore the president not to waste another day, meet with relevant government stakeholders and political parties and come and see what works where we govern,” he said.
“The DA has tried and tested economic reform proposals to help the economy bounce back from this crisis,” Maimane claimed, adding that he looks “forward to working with the president to building economies, lowering unemployment, creating jobs and attracting investment where we govern.”
(Compiled by Makhosandile Zulu)