Mcebisi Jonas. Picture: THE HERALD
dire warning - Mcebisi Jonas. Picture: THE HERALD

Former deputy minister of finance Mcebisi Jonas has warned against the politics of populism.

He was speaking at the annual Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection (Mistra) lecture held at the University of Johannesburg on Tuesday night on the topic of radical economic transformation and what it means.

"The reality is that it is becoming ever more difficult to subject radical economic transformation to ... democratic‚ public reasoning‚" he said.

"Policy positions are seen as proxies for factions‚ which themselves are cast as representatives of competing elites. No wonder we are losing credibility day by day‚" Jonas said.

He warned that populism and factions would be damaging in the run-up to the ANC elective conference in December.

Jonas said populism encourages a range of ideologies‚ left and right.

"The ANC historically‚ it's strength has always been its ability to reflect on commonalities and the skill of getting into conversation‚" he said.

Jonas said the party had lost that ability in recent years‚ adding: "how do we recoup that?"

"It is a very difficult scenario when the ethical and moral credibility of leadership is not that strong‚" he said.

As part of his focus on radical economic transformation‚ Jonas said it wouldn't benefit anyone if property was expropriated without compensation.

"We need to recast radical economic transformation as a genuine programme of inclusive growth around which society can be mobilised‚" he said.

"In the short term we need to politically protect and empower the fiscal and monetary authorities to continue to fulfill their constitutional mandate. The main scope to make fiscal and monetary authorities more supportive of inclusive growth … is to support new black businesses‚ develop industries‚ the expansion of empowerment-intensive industries. For this to happen‚ it is critical that these fiscal and monetary interventions are better communicated within our overall development strategy‚" he said.

Jonas said the country needs to "seriously consider" an economic charter between the state and other stakeholders.

"The charter must achieve sufficient consensus … around a few priorities for inclusive growth‚ including building a capable ... corrupt-free state‚ increasing levels of employment and investment in fixed capital‚ increasing the black share of wealth and income‚ fixing the broken education and skills system‚" he said.

"We must as a matter of urgency deal more decisively with a vested interest in terms of uprooting corruption‚ and take a step to get more value for money for public spending.

"We must protect our institutions from corrupt interference."

 - TMG Digital.


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