Mmusi Maimane. Picture: ESA ALEXANDER
Mmusi Maimane. Picture: ESA ALEXANDER

The government has no plan to fix the economy beyond talk shops, conferences and summits, DA leader Mmusi Maimane says.

The criticism comes despite persistent efforts by President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government  to boost economic growth, address the unemployment crisis, tackle corruption, and improve financial performance and governance at state-owned entities since February. 

Ramaphosa took over the leadership of the government from former president Jacob Zuma, whose ten-year tenure was largely characterised by lack of growth, rampant corruption and record unemployment figures.

“Over the past year, it has become clear that the government has no plan on how to fix the economy, beyond talk shops, conferences and photo-op summits. ‘Investments’ announced were simply the re-announcement of old investments, unemployment has gone up and access to jobs is still manipulated to the benefit of connected ANC insiders, often including demanding sex or cash for jobs,” Maimane said in his presentation of the DA’s 2018 government review in Parliament.

Maimane said in a year that was billed to be one of fundamental reform, the ANC has continued to fail SA.

“In government, all of the crises that existed at the end of the Zuma presidency have worsened in the first year of the Ramaphosa presidency. In parliament, the ANC has reverted to their default position of complete deference to the new president, rather than holding him and his government accountable,” said Maimane.

He said the government has also dismally failed to tackle corruption and create jobs.

“President Ramaphosa is coming to the end of his first year in office. He came to office promising tough action on corruption, and to get the economy growing to create jobs. On both fronts, progress has been elusive.”

“Former President Jacob Zuma may no longer be in power, but he remains out of prison. The public continues to pay for Zuma’s defence costs, despite this likely illegal arrangement being within Ramaphosa’s direct power to end immediately,” said Maimane.

There have also been no further arrests or charges against anyone implicated in state capture, despite there being a surfeit of evidence of serious crimes having been committed, he said.

“Indeed, the NPA [National Prosecuting Authority] announced its decision not to prosecute Ace Magashule for the Estina Dairy theft, just a week before the appointment of a new NDPP [national director of public prosecutions Shamila Batohi]. We hope she will reconsider this decision soon."

The DA leader said of the 15 debates that shaped the national agenda in parliament in 2018, “all confirmed an inconvenient truth: there is no ‘good’ ANC or ‘bad’ ANC, only the ANC. The outcomes of the debates on the recession recovery, fuel price increase and VBS Bank Heist continue to serve as the eulogy of the organisation.

“A final resting call [was] where parliament’s lights switched off while the Eskom inquiry report was being debated and the constitutional review committee’s report’s final words that the bedrock of people’s property rights are up for grabs. While the DA exposed how deep state capture runs in the national power utility and voted against this dangerous constitutional amendment, much of South Africa remains in darkness while the people’s Bill of Rights is being walked all over.”

In its year-end statement, the ANC caucus in parliament said it is “very proud of the vigorous and robust manner in which [it] conducted parliament oversight in 2018. This was demonstrated through various members of the executive being called to account to parliament on matters of national importance and public interest such as the Eskom inquiry, the inquiry into the naturalisation of the Gupta family and the VBS Mutual Bank,” the ANC said.

“In holding the executive accountable, we have ensured that the executive appeared before parliament regularly to account on their work as our rules dictate. These appearances include committee meetings, ministerial statements and oral question-and-answer sessions.

"President Cyril Ramaphosa and Deputy President David Mabuza made six appearances in both houses of parliament to reply to 85 oral questions. Ministers and deputy ministers replied to 497 oral questions in the National Assembly and National Council of Procinces."

phakathib@businesslive.co.za