An open letter to President Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa. Photographer: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

Dear President Ramaphosa, 

As a fellow citizen, I feel compelled to respond to your latest message on Economic Recovery Plan post-Covid-19, I am no economist but applying common sense, begs the question, as to what made you and your cabinet prioritize the National Climate Change adaptation strategy as a pivotal pillar for economic growth. 

This is a first-world issue for developed nations controlling the economic agenda of developing economies. You must note Mr President that most First World economies have raped and pillaged the resources in the developing countries to enrich themselves and now become the voice with a conscience. 

SA has close to 40% percent unemployment and it baffles one as to how you preserve your natural resources when such resources form the basis of our countries opportunity for growth. 

First world economies have electricity, water, sanitation and housing and higher literacy levels that allows for individual and collective growth. This implies that a country that is able to meet the basics needs for its citizens, is more likely to address and participate in first-world economic drivers. The majority of South Africans are living below the poverty line, so why would you take an elitist policy position to frame a struggling economic growth strategy or even include this as a pillar for recovery, post-Covid. 

The state of the South African economy is glaring to all its citizens. 

We need to be practical and ensure that policies are adopted to add meaningful change. 

So herewith my simple suggestions to help you focus and get the country back to a liveable standard. Building new economies on First World principles only works if the country has a sense of socio, economic and political stability. 
Start by fixing the broken wings that have crippled the economy. 

1. Corruption

Please stop wasting time and money with stupid commissions to investigate issues of corruption, rather empower the justice system to perform its functions, optimally. ‘‘This is perceived as a delaying tactic in bring to book the ANC  corrupt officials. 

2. Appointments

Appoint competent leaders to lead critical portfolios. The best person for the job principle. Accountability is critical, leaders must be held to account in terms of the PFMA. 

3. Incentives

Creative incentives and support mechanisms for the private sector to grow the economy, in a meaningful way especially,  in the mining, agriculture, manufacturing and technology sectors. Reduce the import taxes on critical materials to simulate local manufacturing eg. machinery, textiles etc. 

4.  Education

We need an immediate overall of the education system at all levels. The minimum percentage to qualify for a pass should be 50% not 30%. For this to happen, focus should be on early childhood development. This cannot be a private sector privilege. 

Teachers need to be selected on merit. It’s not a job to address unemployment but rather a skill and passion innate to build and educated skilled population for the future. Such educators must be paid a competitive salary as they build future leaders, scientists etc. I suggest we look at the Asian systems for best practice. 

We need meaningful trade schools to develop artisanal skills.

4. Power & basic infrastructure 

Electricity is critical for the country’s growth. We need to use the countries resources to support the power supply, ie coal, gas, solar etc and remove the barriers of governments inefficient policies and procedures. Stability in the power supply is critical for foreign investment in SA.

5. Restructuring government structures 

Reduce our bloated government structure. Inflating government structures to address the unemployment issue is not the answer. 
Instead, let’s have 2-year compulsory conscription for men and women between the ages of 18 to 20 in the military, not for the purposes of war but rather to teach life skills, discipline, and patriotism. This will help slow down the rate of unemployment, overcome racial barriers assist in developing healthy balanced individuals that will contribute to the future of the country. 

Well, I can go on but let’s keep it to these 5 areas of focus. 

I would also support the following behavioural principles that will help keep the ecosystem balanced. 

-Stop the use of plastic

-Enforce penalties for littering just as we enforced “no smoking in public”. 

A clean environment breeds, productive, proud and healthy citizens. 

Mr President, the above is a simplistic lay-persons interpretation to rebuild a distressed economy.