Economy, land top President Zuma’s talk with communities

Friday, February 17, 2017

Pretoria - 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,” President Zuma said on Friday night.

The President 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 President 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.”

The President also took a call from a distraught listener in Tsakane Extension 10 located near Brakpan. Linda Mofokeng asked for the informal settlement to be electrified.

While President Zuma was listening to Mofokeng, MMC for Human Settlement in the Ekurhuleni Metro, Councillor Lesiba Mpya called in to the show and explained that government will temporarily electrify the area as part of a government intervention.

This will be a temporary measure as the metro finalises its plan to electrify the area. In March the metro will go back to the community to start the electrification process in the settlement.

Speaking from the GCIS head office in Pretoria, President Zuma welcomed this development.

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

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