Opinionista Mmusi Maimane 25 November 2013

Economic growth: the challenge of a post-liberation era

Today I want to open up a conversation about a new kind of government in Gauteng. This is based on an idea that has developed within me from my experiences as a young professional building a future for myself and my family.

Growing up, my focus was on getting a good education and going into business. My parents sacrificed everything so their children could have opportunities denied to previous generations under Apartheid.

I’m the eldest of four children, which carries with it a lot of responsibility not just to succeed, but to contribute to my family’s advancement.

I worked hard in primary school so that I could secure sponsorships for high school. In high school I did stock-taking and sports coaching to cover part of my tuition fees. This foundation helped me pursue my passions. I obtained Masters degrees in Theology as well as Public and Development Management.

I started a business helping companies develop strategies to harness the power of a transforming workplace. The value of opportunities for a good education and career should be experienced by every single South African.

That’s why I give credit to leaders like Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki. Part of their legacy is the beginnings of a policy framework for redressing Apartheid.

Years on we see how under Jacob Zuma’s ANC the people are forgotten. We see how policies meant for broad-based empowerment are being abused to benefit the few.

We can’t create opportunities when corruption underpins government and opportunities flow only to those who are politically-connected.

It is because I took my opportunities in life that I’ve been able to come full circle to campaign for a different approach to governance in Gauteng.

The challenge for us is to broaden opportunity and create jobs in a time where so many people, especially young South Africans, are struggling to advance. We need to adapt our policies for a new era that demands a faster pace of growth and job creation.

From an era of oppression, we passed into an era of liberation. Now is the time when those who are committed to black advancement must make the people’s cause a reality in this new post-liberation era.

I’m running for Premier in Gauteng with the belief that this place should be the epicentre of black advancement. Gauteng must be a place of growth and jobs not just for the residents of this province, but for every South African who comes here looking for a better life for themselves and their families back home.

Generations back that is why my mother came here from the Eastern Cape and my father from the North West.

As Gauteng continues to grow we cannot go on with the same policies that don’t create opportunities fast enough for the many, and instead enrich the politically-connected few.

So here are my non-negotiables on the type of government we need to create in Gauteng.

First, government must be professionalised and led by the best in Gauteng, regardless of party political affiliation. Many top black professionals left the public sector because their ideas are not implemented and their careers are limited by political interference.

I want to professionalise hiring practices and develop a centralised approach to recruiting professionals with valuable skills. Coupled with an equitable internship programme for the brightest graduates, we will build a government to be reckoned with.

Second, we must say no to corruption. Stealing from the people is the greatest sin of our times. It is the reason why so many families, and young people especially, are excluded from our economy.

So I’m putting it on the table that we should open up every tender process in Gauteng. I told the Black Management Forum’s conference recently that every tender decision must be taken in the public space, and anyone can attend the meeting. My party has a track-record of this open approach in government and I’m committed to it.

Government has major spending power that can grow this economy and support business. That’s why the third non-negotiable is Black Economic Empowerment must work for the people.

We must reward entrepreneurs who are creating jobs and making a difference in society. That’s the principle of the BEE scorecard improvements I supported this weekend at the DA’s Federal Council on Policy.

With this approach, we create prosperity in Gauteng for more people faster than any current government policy.

The foundation of this post-liberation approach is a simple one: economic inclusion requires economic expansion. No longer will we allow an economic Apartheid where big business and their politically-connected allies benefit at the exclusion of the many.

If we stimulate and incentivise business, and focus on jobs and growth, we talk about a total restructuring of society.

You cannot drive economic growth without bringing people into the economy through jobs, businesses and the spending power of the state.

This is the policy that will lift people out of poverty in a generation or even sooner in this country. If you want more detail, check out the Policy for Change passed at my party’s policy conference this weekend.

This is a solid campaign platform, proven to work in government at a provincial level. This is the policy I will bring into government in Gauteng as the foundation of my approach to empowerment and black advancement.

Our destiny is within our hands to make this happen in an historic election next year. But this can only be achieved if we deliver another massive turnout of people who want change at the next voter registration weekend in February 2014, and the election soon after. DM

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