“Unfortunately, we have invested more in health, but our life expectancy has come down,” he said at the SA Competitiveness Forum in Midrand.
“If you are from a rural or medium poverty background… you are likely to receive bad to medium education, which is obviously not a good omen for future generations.”
The affect of the government’s underperformance on health and education had been significant.
Health and education needed to be fixed, and part of fixing the public administration was to hold those in charge to account.
“What we want to see is more bang-for-the-buck in terms of the investment spend,” said Coleman.
“When you look at the investment spend there is plenty to tell you that, by emerging market standards, South Africa is well in-line with other countries but our outputs are failing.”
Coleman said although the government had been transparent in its failures, the public would judge it on how it planned to turn things around.
He was speaking to the forum about South Africa’s competitiveness from a business perspective.
He said South Africa needed to increase its exports to increase competitiveness.
He said wages had been increasing in the past few years, but productivity had been decreasing. The ideal would be for both to increase.
Over time, there had been a rapid decline in the mining and manufacturing sectors’ contribution to the economy.
“That has been replaced by an increase in the financial sector and real estate and to some extent retail and consumer,” he said.
The mining and manufacturing sectors should be revitalised.
South Africa would continue to compete, not because of low wages, but because the country was better at getting minerals out of the ground and exporting them at a low cost.
It was essential to work on innovation to keep South Africa competitive, said Coleman.
“Our ability to innovate is absolutely there, but we can absolutely grow our manufacturing and mining sector and we can grow investment.”
Coleman said that although jobs had been created, the increase in the population meant there had been no significant decrease in unemployment.
“We haven’t added sufficient numbers in jobs to bring the unemployment rate for the population down.”
He said that between 2000 and 2010, about 4.5 million people were taken out of poverty.