The National Employers’ Association of South Africa (NEASA) views the May 7 elections as a victory for all South Africans in light of the polls being declared free and fair. Despite a few isolated incidents of violence and intimidation, the majority of voters expressed their democratic right.
‘The fact that many voters feel emotionally obliged to vote for the ANC is something that South Africans still have to live with. It is also true that millions of South Africans vote for the ANC believing that the party, instead of South African taxpayers, is the source of social grants for the poor. This misconception, fuelled by the governing alliance, is clearly very convenient and beneficial for the ANC,’ says NEASA CE, Gerhard Papenfus.
Although Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters fared somewhat below their own expectations, they have proofed that they are a force to be reckoned with.
‘The support that the EFF received is an indication of the nature of the challenge facing South Africa in the future. It is however comforting that there are still millions of South Africans who are caught up in the chains of poverty who realise that the EFF’s radical and destructive policies are not the answer to the country’s challenges. This is an indication of the maturity of the South African voters,’ Papenfus said.
Although the ANC has lost some support it must now utilize the enormous goodwill it still has to bring about real transformation in South Africa.
‘The ANC is at a crossroad. It can either increase the pace on the SACP inspired form of transformation as contained in the National Democratic Revolution and promised by President Jacob Zuma ahead of the elections. This will buy the ANC some time and for the time being satisfy the populist demand. In the long run however, this will inevitably lead to increased unemployment, more poverty, more inequality and more instability, Papenfus said.
Contrary to this, the ANC could illustrate leadership and take the less popular route by strengthening free market principles which will give business the opportunity to do what it does best, namely to create wealth and jobs. The free market system has proved to be the only sustainable creator of wealth and jobs.
'Increased interference in the affairs of business over the last few years has resulted in increased inequality to levels previously experienced pre-1994,’ Papenfus said.
Following the election victory, Zuma indicated that the National Development Plan (NDP) will form the basis of the ANC’s policies over the next five years. Thus far the ANC has paid lip-service with regard to the NDP’s insistence on SMME development. In practice, government has introduced legislation that will even further strangle small and medium businesses, South Africa’s only hope for sustainable job creation.
'What the country now needs is an honest government that will lead South Africa through tough processes which South Africans not necessarily want, but what the country needs. To ensure that South Africa returns to a path of economic growth will require strong leadership away from socialist policy methodology which will catapult the country into poverty and instability', Papenfus said.
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