Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: GCIS
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: GCIS

The ANC’s ability to overcome economic challenges, which are rooted in the structural iniquities of apartheid, has been "undermined over the last decade by a failure of leadership and misguided priorities", Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday evening, taking a swipe at President Jacob Zuma.

Ramaphosa launched what can be seen as his economic blueprint in Orlando in Soweto, in the run-up to the December elective conference where he will seek to become the president of the ANC.

As part of this plan, he proposed that a special anti-corruption appropriation fund be established to channel the recovered proceeds from corruption — "which has been stolen from our state-owned enterprises" — to youth training and employment initiatives.

Zuma ends his second five-year term as ANC president in December. His term as president of SA expires in 2019, when the next national elections will take place.

Ramaphosa said the impact of the leadership on the economy "is a reality that we, as the ANC, need to acknowledge and correct".

He warned that "for the first time since the advent of democracy, there is a real chance that the transformation of our country may suffer significant reverses. This should worry us."

Ramaphosa said bold, decisive and collective decisions must be taken to get SA out of its current situation. The trajectory of the country needed to be changed with what he called a "new deal".

To achieve this, he proposed a 10-point plan that puts the creation of decent jobs at the centre of policy programmes and action, with an unrelenting focus on growing the economy.

He said the economy would not create jobs unless it grew. The target for gross domestic product (GDP) growth should be 3% in 2018, rising to 5% growth by 2023.

Ramaphosa deviated from his prepared speech multiple times, saying state-owned enterprises were being looted.

The economy could not be in the hands of a few, he said, specifically mentioning families — which could be seen as a veiled reference to the controversial Gupta family.

When asked about the recent resignation of Michael Sachs as the Treasury’s budget chief, Ramaphosa explained the role at length, and said it was "most unfortunate’ that Sachs had chosen to resign.

He said Sachs had resigned due to the perceived instability at Treasury.

Ramaphosa said he would have a discussion with Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba about how to confront the destabilisation of Treasury. He hoped Sachs could be persuaded to return.

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