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South Africa Would Be Richer If The ANC Understood That The Best Anti-Poverty Strategy Is A Job

In its myopia, the ANC frequently congratulates itself for increasing the number of grants beneficiaries rather than creating decent jobs for them.

25/08/2017 03:57 SAST
Waldo Swiegers/ Bloomberg/ Getty Images
Vendors sell goods from gazebo covered stalls at a street market in the Central Business District [CBD] in Pretoria, South Africa.

Statistician General Padi Lehotla has bad news for us: the ANC government is clueless on how to run the economy and create the right conditions for more jobs that lift many out of poverty. Since 2011, 3 million more South Africans have sunk into poverty.

These unflattering numbers are buttressed by other economic indicators: at 36 percent including discouraged work seekers, how can you reduce poverty with such high levels of unemployment? Presently in a technical recession, how can you reduce poverty with a sluggish economy that slips in and out of recession?

We are told there are 17 million people on social grants today, up from 3 million in 2000. The ANC strategy naive: keep widening the programs for social spending while the economy creates less and less money to finance such spending. It is a recipe for an impending disaster -- a road to becoming a financial colony of the International Monetary Fund.

Ronald Reagan has said that the success of welfare programs like social grants should be the number of people who leave the programs, not the number of people who are added each year. In its myopia, the ANC frequently congratulates itself for increasing the number of grants beneficiaries rather than creating decent jobs for them.

Soon there will be no money to pay for social grants, build RDP houses, pay for free education and provide free health care because the ANC cultivates a culture in us that we can get everything we want from the government; that we need not worry about where the money comes from; whether there will be enough money to give us these hand-outs tomorrow and we need not worry about finding jobs.

Policy makers need to focus more on growing the economy to create opportunities for poor people rather than pickpocketing the rich to give to the poor.

Look at how the ANC ignores all the things that are essential to lifting black people out of poverty. On quality education, it acquiesces to SADTU rather than the millions of poor children in the villages and townships for whom quality education is the only ticket out of poverty.

On skills and employability, it submits to COSATU rather than those millions of unemployed young people who need to set their feet at workplaces to get the necessary experience and skills. Instead, it is building mountains they have to climb in order to get that first job.

Businesses create jobs, not the government. The government collects in taxes in order to spend. Without businesses that pay tax, there would be no government with all the perks and privileges. Yet look at how the ANC is totally clueless in fighting crime –- which affects businesses.

In my home town, Maclear, two businesses were robbed over the last few months alone: a Capitec ATM was bombed and a Pep Store robbed at gunpoint. Both these businesses are less than 100 meters from the police station.

Yet look at how the ANC is so deft and ingenious in aiding a Zimbabwean villain known as Grace Mugabe escape justice for committing a crime in our country and a genocidal dictator for killing his own people in Sudan.

The Centre for Development and Enterprise has been criticized by economic illiterates for stating a basic fact: the best anti-poverty strategy is a job. Policy makers need to focus more on growing the economy to create opportunities for poor people rather than pickpocketing the rich to give to the poor.

This country would be richer if the ANC applied the same skill and determination it has applied in protecting President Zuma in growing the economy and creating jobs that reduce poverty.

In this generally mismanaged economy, there was an electricity blackout as I was writing this comment. There are thousands of businesses that have to produce less because Eskom is unable to meet the electricity demand. While rewarding a crooked executive for failure, they are preventing an entire industry of independent power producers from competing to provide the public with cheaper and clean energy.

The ANC mismanages our economy, not for want of good ideas. They have good ideas gathering dust all over the place, the NDP is one of them. The reason is that it has not seriously had to pay the price for high unemployment, poverty and slow economic growth.

This country would be richer if the ANC applied the same skill and determination it has applied in protecting President Zuma in growing the economy and creating jobs that reduce poverty. We would be richer today if the ANC applied the same deftness and resolve it did in sneaking a Zimbabwean villain out of the country in fighting crime and corruption that affects businesses and steals from the poor.

Padi Lehotla's statistics paint an unflattering picture of our government's performance in managing the economy and creating opportunities for poor people. We are told the ANC already has an innovative answer to Lehotla and his statistics: get rid of him and put someone else who will present the numbers with rose-tinted glasses.

It has now become necessary that removing the ANC from power be part of discussions on reducing poverty, unemployment and growing the economy.