South African President Jacob Zuma on Thursday expressed disatisfaction with the current economic status quo, saying he agreed with the view that economic transformation must not only be radical but also revolutionary.
In response to a debate on the State of the Nation Address (SONA) he delivered in Parliament last week, Zuma said the political freedom gained in 1994 must be accompanied by economic freedom for the black majority in this country, and the Africans in particular.
“We are not going to be apologetic about that,” he said.
During the debate, MPs of opposition parties said South Africa’s radical economic transformation program will not succeed because it has not succeeded anywhere else.
Zuma said such statements serve as a confirmation that “some of our compatriots are determined to defend and protect the status quo and ensure that the ownership, control and management of the economy remains skewed in favour of a racial minority”.
The fact that white households earn five times more than black households cannot guarantee a sustainable and prosperous future for all, Zuma said.
The fact that most companies at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange are owned by whites should worry any leader in the country who wants to see a sustainable future, said Zuma.
This is also true of the mining industry where there is no proliferation of successful black owned mining companies 23 years after apartheid was brought to an end, the president said.
At the debate, Gugile Nkwinti, Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, advocated for the radical transformation of the structure, systems, ownership, control and institutions.
Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe pointed out that radical socio-economic transformation is not just political rhetoric.
“This is a serious programme, and it will be implemented by government using the strategic levers that are available to the state. These include legislation, regulations, licensing, budget and procurement as well as Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment Charters,” Zuma said.
Radical socio-economic transformation will help South Africa grow the economy in an inclusive manner, ensuring true reconciliation and prosperity, said Zuma.