Economy, land top Zuma’s talk with communities

Economy, land top Zuma’s talk with communities
South Africa's High Court ruled that a decision seven years ago to drop 783 corruption charges against President Jacob Zuma was irrational and should be reviewed. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

While the South African economy is slowly beginning to pick up government is adamant that it will continue to push for radical socio-economic transformation, President Jacob Zuma said.

“We are operating under a difficult environment but there is hope. The economy is beginning to pick up,” Zuma said on Friday night.

Zuma was speaking to communities through the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) link-up to community radio stations. Listeners were able to call in and pose questions to the President.

He said the majority of black people in the country had previously been prevented from participating in the economy.

“The time has come for radical socio-economic transformation,” he said in response to a question from a listener.

He added that it was time to end the monopoly of the economy saying this reality needs to be turned around if South Africa is to eradicate poverty, inequality and unemployment.

“We need to open up the economy,” he said.

The President was engaging South Africans a week after he delivered the State of the Nation Address (SONA) in Parliament. In his address he said radical economic transformation will be at the centre of government’s priorities for 2017.

Government anticipates an economic growth rate of 1.3% this year, but unemployment remains a huge challenge, hence government’s Nine-Point Plan to reignite growth so the economy can create jobs.

He said during his address that the time had come for the state to move a step further to ensure an overhaul of the economic structure of the country for the benefit of all citizens – not just a few.

Among the other questions posed by the public who called in from as far as Aliwal North in the Eastern Cape, Jozini in KwaZulu-Natal and Moses Kotane in the North West was the issue of land.

“The issue of land is a serious and fundamental issue. You can’t separate the issue of land from the economy because land is where the economy is,” said the President, adding that land was historically taken away in huge chunks.

“We are saying that when we obtained freedom … we introduced systems like it should be bought by government from land owners. We now see that that system has not helped us to address the issue. It has addressed it to some degree but there have been problems as well,” said Zuma.

He said government had given land claimants the option of the land or money with the majority of people opting for money.

“Others went back to the land and we did not have a system to assist them [to ensure] the land could be productive. We will also work out a system to assist to make land viable and productive so that we deal with poverty. We need more land for black people that must be addressed.”

Labour brokers, drug abuse, crime and entrepreneurship were among the issues raised by listeners who called in to the show. Zuma said that often drugs and alcohol were a big contributor to crime levels.

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