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'State handouts hamper growth'

Aug 11 2010 16:56 Leani Wessels

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Johannesburg - Government handouts and political patronage stifle economic growth and are an insult to the majority of South Africans, renowned businesswoman Mamphela Ramphele said on Wednesday.

Speaking at the annual Discovery Leadership summit in Sandton, Ramphele said government is not addressing the country's wealth gap.

"At the heart of this failure is government turning citizens into recipients of handouts," said Ramphele.

According to Ramphele, RDP housing is an example of handouts creating a vicious cycle of dependency on government.

"Taking away this ability (of people to build their own houses) adds salt to the wound of indignity and humiliation," she said.

'BEE an empty promise'

She also said black economic empowerment (BEE) has not lived up to its promises. "It has resulted in many unintended consequences, like creating a culture of compliance rather than a culture of transformation," she said. "The focus on political patronage has denied rural people significant benefits."

Also speaking at the conference, Discovery Holdings [JSE:DSY] CEO Adrian Gore said there is no roadmap to success, and many Bric (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries face bigger problems relating to crime, corruption and social ills than South Africa.

"We are dogged by negativity, and this is fundamentally irrational," he said. Gore said this is largely due to the country being framed as a "poor African state" by international perceptions and media.

"I'm not saying this isn't our reality, I'm saying we can get out of it."

Ramphele said the private sector should engage with government to find solutions for problems like unemployment and poverty, and challenged the country's CEOs to debate the role of the media in the country.

Earlier in the conference, Tokyo Sexwale said the country's media was not at risk of losing its independence.

"I can state from where I sit, from where I stand, that the perception that the leading party is at war with the media is just that - a perception," he said.

"South Africans are made of stellar stuff - we should be able to discuss the media- government relationship," said Sexwale.

 - Fin24.com



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