Land and skills key to unlock inclusive growth

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Land, human capabilities and gender relations are some of the issues highlighted by President Cyril Ramaphosa as the key to unlocking inclusive growth.

The President was speaking at the inaugural Drakensberg Inclusive Growth Forum, where he delivered the keynote address. 

In his address to the thought leaders in attendance, President Ramaphosa said addressing land dispossession of the black majority was essential to remedy past injustices and reduce asset poverty.

“At the heart of the inequality, poverty and underdevelopment that is so prevalent in our society was the dispossession of the black majority -- African, Coloured and Indian -- of their assets. Their land was taken away from them, their homes, their livestock, their crops, their businesses and their livelihoods.” 

The President said the concentration of ownership and control in the hands of the few severely constrained the economic potential of land in South Africa.

“It is time to unlock that potential by giving arable land and agricultural support to emerging black farmers, by providing labour tenants with security of tenure, by housing poor families in well-located areas and by ensuring that communal land is used for the benefit of communities,” he said.

The Drakensberg Inclusive Growth forum, which is organised under the auspices of the Kgalema Motlanthe Foundation, brings together government, business, civil society, including the youth, to jointly share ideas and develop action plans in response to the triple challenge of poverty, inequality and unemployment. 

“One of the great achievements of our young democracy has been the establishment of durable institutions that have as their collective mandate the advancement of the interests of all South Africans, particularly the poor and the vulnerable.

“We depend on these institutions to mediate the distribution of power and resources across society in a manner that is fair, progressive and based in law. Another obstacle to inclusive growth… [is] skills shortage, which [former President Kgalema Motlanthe] traced back to the denial of black South Africans decent education by the apartheid state.

“The shortage of skills in our society remains the greatest impediment to inclusive growth. The development of our human capabilities is therefore essential,” said President Ramaphosa.

He urged stakeholders in attendance to urgently look for solutions to address education and skills development.

“We know that it may be years before we see the benefits of the improvements we make now in the education system. It is therefore important that we capacitate the young people who are today looking for work, through work experience initiatives, in service training and work readiness programmes.

“Measures like the Employment Tax Incentive may reduce the risks and costs of employing first-time job seekers, but there is a clear need for a broad, multi-faceted range of interventions to get young people into employment,” said the President.

In winding up his address, President Ramaphosa said if the country is determined to grow the economy and bring about inclusive growth, it needs to dismantle patriarchy and confront gender equality head on. 

“Our economy will remain forever constrained if women are not given the opportunity to become full and equal participants in the economic life of the country.

“The expectation that women should bear the greatest responsibility for child care and domestic work consigns women to positions of economic and social subordination.

“We must make sure that she can go to an institution of higher learning or into post-school training, that she is able to equally compete for a job, to earn equal pay for equal work and to be promoted according to her ability and contribution,” said the President. –