How To Incentivise The ANC Government For Growth And Employment

We need to grow the economy so more of us can get jobs. But our politicians lack the incentives necessary to focus on growing the economy and creating jobs.

15/03/2017 03:55 SAST
Esa Alexander/ The Times/ Gallo Images/ Getty Images

Our economy is sluggish. It bumps along at the bottom compared to other emerging economies of the world, our BRICS partners and Sub-Saharan Africa. Between 2011 and 2014, the world economy grew by 3 percent to 4 percent, emerging economies by 5 percent to 6 percent and Sub-Saharan Africa also by 5 percent to 6 percent. South Africa? A measly 3 percent to 3.5 percent over the same period. We are currently growing at about 1 percent. In 2016, unemployment was at its highest (26.6 percent official) since 2003 when it was 29.3 percent. When the cake is bigger, everybody gets a slice. We need to grow the economy so more of us can get jobs. But our politicians lack the incentives necessary to focus on growing the economy and creating jobs. We should consider legislating these incentives so our politicians can focus on growth, job creation and crime-fighting.

Growth-linked salary increases

President Zuma presides over a bloated cabinet with around 70 ministers and deputies. This jobs-for-pals cabinet is already expensive with so many people who have jobs that should not even exist such as the Ministers of Sport, Arts and Culture, Communications, Posts and Telecoms, Small Businesses, Water and Sanitation, Higher Education, Economic Development, The Presidency and others. Add to this cost their annual salary increases and perks as determined by a Remuneration Commission which itself should not exist.

President Zuma had a penchant for shooting his mouth off about performance when he took office in 2009, going as far as signing "performance agreements" with his ministers. Few know what became of those performance agreements and whether any non-performers were held accountable. In order to focus our government on growth and employment, we should legislate that their salary increases and perks be growth-linked. GDP growth of 5 percent and more should entitle them to inflation-linked salary increases, first class travel and 5 star hotel accommodation. From this, the judges should be excluded but MPs, MPLs and Councillors must be included although they are less blameworthy for our dismal economic performance than the cabinet.

Employment-linked staffing

South Africa has a notoriously big, well-paid and incompetent bureaucracy and there does not seem to be any attempts to cut its size. Our politicians forget that the government does not create wealth. It uses money it grabs from private businesses and individuals in the form of taxes. In order to focus them on jobs, we ought to legislate that the staffing of their offices be linked to the national rate of unemployment. Ministers, Deputies, Premiers, MECs, Mayors etc should not freely build bureaucracies and armies of servants without due regard to the national rate of unemployment. Patronage positions such as political advisors and chiefs of staff should be permanently abolished for all except the president.

All other government officials should only have bare or essential staff such as secretaries and personal assistants in addition to general departmental staff who themselves may only be essential in order to run the departments. With a 5 percent decrease in unemployment they may be justified in requesting additional staff and even then on demonstrable evidence of need. Some will criticise this for an apparent contradiction in agitating for job creation while decapitating government jobs at the same time. But they will be missing the point because government does not create wealth. It consumes wealth created by others. Sustainable employment only comes from private businesses.

Crime rate-linked securitypersonnel

Again, in order to focus our government on crime-fighting their provision of security personnel must be linked to crime rates in the country. With increases in the crime rate, they should lose their private bodyguards and be urged to use the South African Police Service like everyone else when they visit communities or go on trips. With a decrease of 5 percent or more in the crime rate, they should be entitled to minimum bodyguards and even here on objective evidence of need.

Our government generally lacks the productive discipline associated with people who preside over an economy for which they care. It is evident they will always put politics over sound policies and management. These propositions obviously have many shortcomings, but this is where we begin. Politicians preside over taxpayers' money for the supposed benefit of the public. What better way to get their concrete allegiance to the public than by subordinating their benefits of office to the general welfare of South African people?