Opinionista Mmusi Maimane 15 July 2014

The Jobs Parliament: Unemployment is the enemy

At a recent gathering of the Cape Town Press Club, I announced the DA’s legislative agenda for this fifth Parliament. It is a concept that we refer to as the Jobs Parliament. This is not an attempt at political grandstanding or cheap politicking, but rather an attempt to keep unemployment and job creation at the forefront of this Parliament’s mind. But what exactly does this concept of a Jobs Parliament entail?

The roots of the Jobs Parliament are two-fold: achieving the South African society envisioned by our Constitution and acknowledging the primary challenges faced by South Africans: unemployment, poverty and inequality. We have a constitutional mandate to create a non-racial and non-sexist and equal society. I believe that this is a united, strong and reconciled South Africa. A South Africa that is truly liberated from the oppressive and divisive policies of our past. And a South Africa where our constitutional rights and freedoms are no longer promises or ideals but the lived experience of every single South African.

In the DA, we call this vision the “Open Opportunity Society for All”. It is a vision that informs everything that we say and do. It is this vision which drives us towards opening up government so that it not only serves the immediate needs of South Africans but also works to expand the opportunities available to each individual.

In South Africa today, unemployment, poverty and inequality are the three challenges that deny opportunity to South Africans and undermine the DA’s vision for South Africa as well as our hard-won constitutional freedoms. The common thread underlining each of these three challenges is one of economic opportunity. By virtue of one’s economic circumstance, you either have or are denied many of your constitutional freedoms.

So what do we do to expand opportunity and freedom to all South Africans?

Well, since 2009 the National Planning Commission has worked on a plan to address exactly these issues. The National Development Plan is a plan for South Africa to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality by 2030. Broadly speaking, the NDP aims to do this by:

  • Uniting South Africans;
  • Unleashing the energies of our citizens;
  • Growing an inclusive economy;
  • Building capabilities;
  • Enhancing the capability of the state; and
  • Leaders working together to solve complex problems.

This is the Open Opportunity Society for All unpacked. At its very heart, the NDP aims to enhance the capability of the state (Open), grow an inclusive economy (opportunity), and unite South Africans (Society for All).

Now what does the NDP need to achieve these goals? It needs leaders working together to solve complex problems. This is where the Jobs Parliament comes into play.

Parliament has a duty to unpack the NDP through enabling legislation in an effective and pragmatic manner. This will provide the legislative framework that is required to give the NDP the best chance of success. In other words, the NDP is the prism through which Parliament must work to create the necessary conditions to enable job creation and economic growth. I believe that the Jobs Parliament is how we focus Parliament’s time and efforts by achieving the aims of the NDP and thus responding to the needs of the South African people.

As Members of Parliament we cannot sit back and hope for the Executive branch of government to make it all better. Parliament must lead the fight on unemployment, poverty and inequality through cutting red tape and regulations that hamper business, rooting out corruption in the executive and by fighting any laws that will hurt our economy and kill jobs in the process.

The DA is willing to work together with government in this fight. I will mobilise all 101 members of the DA’s parliamentary caucus to use their skills and expertise to propose strong free market based legislative alternatives. We will engage with industry leaders, union leaders and academics to find international best practice and innovative ideas that could be put to the test in South Africa.

In an increasingly globalised and technologically advanced world, we have but two options: lead or be left behind. I choose the former. And it begins with the Jobs Parliament. DM


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