Despite the significant progress made in transforming the South African economy, the majority of the population remained on the margins of development, said National Planning Commission Deputy Chairperson, Cyril Ramaphosa.
He outlined the economic proposals contained in the country’s National Development Plan (NDP), which seeks to change this picture. The plan is premised on eliminating poverty and reducing inequality by 2030.
Ramaphosa told academics, students and civil society organisations that the NDP was the only plan that can deliver faster economic growth as well as inclusive growth.
He said the NDP takes a critical and long-term perspective of the country and suggests ways to overcome unemployment and poverty.
He emphasised that since 1994, the economy had more stable growth but acknowledged the structural challenges that were still there. South Africa had lower inflation and higher levels of employment since 1994. The number of middle-class doubled to more than four million. Workers now enjoy more protection than ever before.
“We have a lot to be grateful for. The glass is not half empty but half full. We have a duty to fill that glass and the NDP is giving us the chance to do so,” Ramaphosa said.
He said the NDP sought an economy that was growing faster with a focus on labour absorption.
“The NDP suggest that we reduce wage inequalities in the economy. The plan suggests clear steps to grow agro processing, mining and supporting small business.”
Ramaphosa said many of the unemployed people in the country lacked the skills to enter certain markets.
The challenge of creating meaningful jobs would forever be present and this was the struggle “we must engage in”, he said.
The NDP suggests three areas to boost economic growth, namely promotion of industries that are labour absorbing; growing of manufacturing, financial services and telecommunications and a broader social wage to enable even the poorest to have a decent living.
Ramaphosa called on those who are criticising the plan to engage on some of the proposals and agree on a process to move forward.
“We all want what is best for our people and what is best for our country.
“This plan is not perfect. There is no perfect plan in the world, and where there are differences, they must be resolved,” said Ramaphosa.
Among those who attended the lecture were NPC member professor Marcus Balintulo and Advocate Geroge Bizoz.