Ramaphosa will have DA's full support if he's genuine about economic reform, says Maimane

25 May 2019 - 16:34 By TimesLIVE
Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane.
Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane.
Image: REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

President Cyril Ramaphosa will have the DA’s full support if he does what is in the interest of South Africa and is genuine about economic reform, says DA leader Mmusi Maimane.

The DA leader congratulated Ramaphosa on his swearing in as president of the country on Saturday, saying this marked the “possibility of change that builds one SA for all”.

“If the president does what is in the interest of South Africa and is genuine about economic reform, he will have the full support of the DA,” Maimane said.

Maimane said that key cabinet changes would signal a commitment to reform. These would include reducing the economic cluster to three key ministries to enable more coherent economic policy – namely finance, state-owned entities and jobs.

He added that the minister of finance must be committed and authorised to set a debt ceiling and the public enterprises minister must be willing to privatise non-strategic SOEs such as SAA, and to restructure Eskom to enable a private-sector-led transition to cheaper, cleaner energy sources.

Entrepreneurs, Maimane said, were the solution not the problem, and labour legislation, especially that which restricted small business, must be significantly liberalised by the new minister of jobs.

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“The jobs minister must be commuted to visa reform to boost tourism and investment so it is easier for critical skills and foreign currency to enter South Africa.”

The president must also appoint a basic education minister who was committed and strong enough to stand up to teachers’ union Sadtu, and teachers needed to be properly assessed, trained and incentivised.

Among other changes recommended by Maimane was merging the sports ministry with basic education to achieve bottom-up transformation in sport, while science and technology should be merged with higher education to better foster innovation, he said.

He also suggested that:

  • Rather than implementing unaffordable National Health Insurance, we should concentrate on fixing our public hospitals, expanding access to primary healthcare clinics, and on leveraging the private health sector for maximum public benefit;
  • Provinces must be empowered to administer their own police forces because crime-fighting needs urgent localised knowledge and intelligence on the ground;
  • South Africa needs a minister of local government who pushes for more devolution of power to cities, be it to run their own railways or to purchase their own electricity directly from suppliers;
  • State Security must have a minister who can professionalise the department and get it focused on ensuring the nation’s security and fighting corruption rather than on waging factional battles. ;
  • President Ramaphosa needs to use the opportunity to be honest with the nation about and explain to people why populist solutions, no matter how attractive they may appear, will ultimately lead to South Africa’s downfall, as they have done in Zimbabwe, Venezuela and elsewhere; and
  • Ramaphosa should convene a summit on race and reconciliation so we can find each other and start working together as one nation with one shared future.

“President Ramaphosa will have my full support when he prioritises the national interest over his party’s interest. Beginning with these reforms would be a huge step in the right direction,” said Ramaphosa.