Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane will write to National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete requesting an urgent debate on how to get the country's economy "up and running again" after Statistics South Africa announced that the country was in recession‚ for the second time in two years.
The economy has battled to fully recover and stabilise after former president Jacob Zuma's disastrous tinkering with the National Treasury at the end of 2015‚ as part of the state capture project.
StatsSA announced on Tuesday that the economy was officially in recession‚ with GDP growth down by 0.7% in the second quarter of 2018‚ following the massive 2.6% contraction in the first quarter.
The economy is set to be a critical issue in the 2019 national election - and the announcement of a recession less than a year before the polls does not bode well for the governing ANC‚ already taking a hammering due to the revelations about its leaders before commissions of inquiry on state capture and on the SA Revenue Service.
At the SARS inquiry‚ it had already emerged that the 1% increase in VAT‚ the first in two decades‚ would not have been necessary if it were not for the R50bn shortfall in revenue collection by the tax agency - which it is becoming increasingly evident before the commission was caused by mismanagement of SARS by suspended commissioner Tom Moyane. Reacting to the news‚ Maimane said the recession could be blamed on the ANC's economic policies as well as its inability to create jobs for the recession. He said despite a change in leadership of the ANC - from Zuma to President Cyril Ramaphosa - very little had changed.
"There has been no fundamental change to the ANC’s approach to the economy. Corruption‚ policy incoherence‚ crumbling SOEs‚ lack of investment‚ and unstable governance continues to produce economic instability and rising unemployment. We cannot continue down the same path any longer‚" Maimane said.
"Crucially‚ the ANC’s mismanagement of the economy reaches well beyond just those who are unemployed. GDP per capita statistics show that actual household income has been in decline for the past five years."
Maimane said SA was getting "poorer and poorer" under the ANC‚ with record-high levels of unemployment‚ a VAT increase for the first time in two decades and rising fuel costs having all engulfed South Africans this year‚ Maimane said.
"Our economy is currently on life-support as a direct result of a corrupt and failing ANC government which has no plan for our economy. We will never achieve a united‚ non-racial and prosperous nation without a growing economy which creates jobs‚ opportunity and wealth for all. What South Africa now requires is leadership that understands our economy and appreciates that without a strong and thriving economy we will never address the injustices of our past‚" he said.