Jacob Zuma. Picture: REUTERS
Jacob Zuma. Picture: REUTERS

President Jacob Zuma used a celebratory dinner for the National Development Plan to stress the importance of inclusive economic growth in accomplishing the goals of the national plan.

His address in Cape Town on Tuesday evening, at an event to mark the fifth anniversary of the NDP, was a tempered version of the "radical economic transformation" mantra his backers have become known for, ahead of the ANC’s elective conference in December.

Instead, Zuma opted for a reference to "inclusive growth", a phrase that has been used by former finance minister Pravin Gordhan and by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The South African economy recently crawled out of a technical recession and is not expected to grow much more than 1% this year. Unemployment remains stubbornly high.

However, the summation of Zuma’s address was that even stronger growth figures will be of no use if a healthier economy does not benefit the majority of South Africans.

"One area where the long schedule of apartheid has not retreated is the area of the economy. We have created a large black middle class but ownership and management patterns of the economy have not changed.

"We need to fundamentally change the management and control of the economy in favour of all South Africans, especially blacks. There can be no prosperity for some while the majority languishes in poverty. That we cannot accept," said Zuma.

He said his decision to establish two ministries and a National Planning Commission was one of the most important decisions made in government.

Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe said SA should not become so preoccupied with its current economic state that society forgets that the NDP is working towards 2030.

"It is not just about here and now but the long term. Our progress has not been linear but it has also not been stellar. It requires a collaborative effort from everyone to realise the goals of this plan and a better country for all," said Radebe.

National Assembly speaker Baleka Mbete said while the NDP remained the government’s plan of action, challenges in the progress of its implementation included slow integration, budgetary constraints in other spheres of government, and slow progress in reaching the plan’s targets.

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