Cape Town - In an opinion piece for the Financial Times on Friday, DA leader Helen Zille
points to the World Bank's revision of its growth forecast for the country from 3.1% to 2.5% as underlining "a theme of recent years that has seen South Africa's economy fail to keep pace with many of its developing peers".
It is against this backdrop, said Zille, that she is presenting a new plan to "revive the economy and tackle the bottlenecks that frustrate so many would-be investors".
Zille points out that income equality has surpassed even apartheid-era statistics. "The truth," said Zille, "is that our economy is faltering."
"It is clear South Africa needs a radical change in direction," said Zille. The DA this weekend aims to launch a strategy that would accelerate annual growth to 8%.
"In particular, it proposes tough reforms to labour laws by removing the automatic extension of collective bargaining agreements across sectors; establishing 'jobs zones' featuring special exemptions from restrictive regulations; and lifting administrative requirements for small businesses.
"These changes will reduce barriers to entry, encourage flexibility and stimulate productivity in South Africa's principal labour-absorbing sectors such as mining, manufacturing and agriculture.
"Combined with focused employment incentives such as a youth wage subsidy and market-driven skills development programmes, the plan provides a radical overhaul of the country's labour market."
Zille contrast's the DA's vision with the ANC's "muddled blend of Venezuela-style resource nationalism and state-driven development", citing Vladimir Putin's Russia as a "textbook case" of "the concentration of wealth in the hands of the few".
"Our plan paves the way for a very different future: promoting innovation, entrepreneurship, investment and growth," said Zille.
The DA plans to address obsolete structural legacies inherited from the country's apartheid past with policies to "bring to life 'dead capital' through broad-based economic empowerment programmes, land reform and a proactive social security system".
Said Zille: "Examples of this include policies to distribute shares in state-owned companies; introduce tax deductions to incentivise employee shared-ownership schemes; promote a joint ownership model in the agricultural sector; and lower the cost barriers facing first-time homeowners."
This would place SA on a par with "the most competitive emerging economies in the world, from Turkey to Indonesia".
SA may garner praise for its sophisticated financial sector and sound legal environment, but falls short in ease of doing business and the barriers caused by excessive regulation and state inefficiency.
The DA's proposals "will cut the tax and regulatory burdens inhibiting new business growth", said Zille.
"Seven of the 10 fastest-growing economies in the world are in Africa.
"By setting out how to expedite regional trade by simplifying import, export and customs procedures and promoting regional government partnerships, we seek to position South Africa at the forefront of continental growth," said Zille.
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