It is both an honour and privilege to be sharing some thoughts on the economic opportunities that our country presents to this August audience.
As the African National Congress, we are delighted that our government and country is hosting our friends from the People’s Republic of China and other BRICS member countries. Indeed, your presence and the success of the BRICS Summit represents a vote of confidence in our country and continent. It is our hope that our historical relationship will grow further with our country’s economy growing to enable us to surmount the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality.
Distinguished guests, we are meeting here tonight to celebrate the ever-growing relationship between the peoples of China and South Africa. Our celebrations assumes even more significance as they take place against the backdrop of our country celebrating 100 years since the birth of our principled freedom fighter and global statesman and icon, the late Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.
Allow me also to acknowledge the fact that our country is also celebrating a centenary of our of the inspirational stalwart of our struggle against apartheid and for freedom and democracy, Mama Albertina Nontsikelelo Sisulu. These two formidable leaders left a rich legacy of selflessness, moral uprightness and service to our people that continues to inspire us in our forward march to create a better life for all our people. In their tribute we will not only preserve and promote this legacy but will also ensure that the aspirations of our people as espoused in the Freedom Charter are realized.
Ladies and gentlemen, our country needs investment, both domestic and foreign, if we are to succeed in accomplishing this historic mission. It is however important that we make our country attractive if we are to be an investment destination of choice. We need to take practical steps to ensure that there is good governance across government and state-owned enterprises, fight against corruption and create a conducive environment that allows for higher rate of investment, amongst others.
It is against this backdrop that the leadership of the ANC has been hard at work since our last national conference galvanizing all role players to contribute towards rebuilding our country’s economy. Our work is informed and guided by the decisions taken and groundbreaking resolutions that aim to take our organization and our country were taken and adopted.
It is no surprise that we have recaptured the imagination of South Africans and are restoring the confidence of our people in the ANC whilst reigniting a positive mood across all sectors of our proud and resilient nation.
We are therefore reenergized as a movement to play our historic role of being the leader of society and parliament of our people. We are alive to the fact that we will have to reclaim this position through practical actions that demonstrate our commitment to the cause of total liberation and not just through proclamations and pronouncements.
Programme Director, allow me to to provide an overview of our priorities in order to provide a context for our interactions tonight. May I take liberty to confine my input on sone of the resolutions that were adopted that I believe will assist our counterparts from China in understanding our socioeconomic environment. These priorities, not in any specific order are:
Rebuilding, growing and transforming our economy
The ANC has taken a view to drive and promote economic transformation at its last conference. We have resolved to accelerate radical socio-economic transformation with the view to bring those of our people who have hitherto been kept on the periphery of the economy into the mainstream.
Ladies and gentlemen, the matter of transformation is a fundamental one that all of us must be seized with if we are to heal the wounds of the past. Of specific relevance as we talk transformation in the economic sector is the sad reality that the ownership of our economy is still skewed in favour of the minority with the majority trapped in the periphery. This situation is not sustainable and needs to change if we are to progress as a country. Given this context radical socioeconomic transformation will ensure that the “The People share in the Country’s Wealth”.
Good governance in SOEs
Given the economic morass our country finds itself in, the new leadership of the ANC has taken a decision to prioritize economic recovery. We are attending to issues that have been hampering growth with the view to realize higher levels of growth in the economy. We are giving urgent attention to the State-owned Enterprises (SEO’s) governance challenges with the appointment of new boards and competent and ethical executives being part of our drive to ensure that SOEs play their developmental role.
We will continue to take steps to fix all SOEs as this will go a long way in contributing to growing the economy and creating jobs.
The mining charter
To provide context, radical transformation including on the economic front is a longstanding policy of the ANC. Since the advent of democracy in our country some 24 years ago, all efforts have been made to realize the dream of a better life for all our people. At an economic level, there are pieces of legislation and policies that aim at correcting the wrongs of the apartheid past by bringing the hitherto economically excluded into the mainstream.
The mining charter therefore should be viewed against this backdrop. Truth be told, the pace of economic transformation across most if not all sectors had been worryingly slow, mining included. Hence our government is taking decisive steps to accelerate the pace as per the resolutions of our 54th National Conference. The ongoing extensive consultations with stakeholders to hammer out a charter that will ensure accelerated transformation whilst making mining attractive to investors, sustainable and safe is a step in the right direction and we urge all stakeholders to participate in rebuilding our mining sector.
The fight against corruption and promotion of ethical leadership
Corruption is a scourge that must be uprooted from our society. The ANC is intensifying efforts to fight corruption. Amongst measures to fight corruption include establishment of commission of enquiries on state capture, investigation and prosecution of those responsible for various malfeasances and strengthening of mechanisms for the appointment of individuals to senior government positions, state owned entities and law enforcement agencies as this will improve transparency, prevent corruption and ensure adequate vetting of candidates.
To win this war, anti-corruption efforts within the state are being more effectively coordinated and all forms of corruption are exposed and prosecuted. This also includes corruption, collusion and other criminal activity in the private sector, which are being fought with equal diligence, determination and vigour.
Distinguished guests, our country is open for business. There are a multiplicity of investment opportunities across various sectors including energy, mining, ICT and build environment that need to be seized.
The fact that our country has become China’s largest trading partner in Africa, while China has been the country’s biggest trading partner for nine years is an encouraging development that needs to be built on. We are indeed delighted that the two-way trade between our countries has grown to more than R500b as this represents more than 20 times what it was at the dawn of democracy in our country.
We encourage even more growth as foreign direct investment will contribute in no small measure to our efforts of creating a better life for all our people. President Ramaphosa has set our government a target to raise $100b of investment to rebuild our economy. Working together in the spirit of thuma mina, we will meet this target. Indeed, we have to work on our historic relationship to ensure that our countries grow their economies for the benefit of our people.
Cde Paul Mashatile is the Treasurer General of the African National Congress