'Ailing' economy can't wait for debates, Cabinet must act now - Lamola | Fin24
 
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'Ailing' economy can't wait for debates, Cabinet must act now - Lamola

Sep 20 2019 15:58
Tshidi Madia

State-owned enterprises cannot be rescued without strategic partnerships, Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola has said, adding that bold and decisive action is needed.

"Some, we must say, we won't be able to run them," he said, speaking at a gala dinner that former president Kgalema Motlanthe’s foundation held in Johannesburg on Thursday evening.

Lamola's view could create more tension with the ANC's alliance partner the the Congress of SA Trade Unions. The trade union federation is opposed to plans to unbundle struggling power utility Eskom or privatise any state-run companies, saying workers would lose their jobs. 

Lamola, who was the keynote speaker at the gala dinner, said economic power had not reached the hands of the majority.

"We have not been able to distribute income and wealth in the country in a manner that represents the demographics of the country," said Lamola. "We can no longer afford to talk about transformation and couch in it fancy rhetoric. We now need to act."

This would include ensuring that those who stole from the state were brought to book, he said.

Referring to the debate on Finance Minister Tito Mboweni's proposed economic plan, which aims to boost South Africa's ailing economy, Lamola said the country cannot "wait for South Africa to conclude discussions".

"Cabinet has debated… what is implementable must be implemented," he said. 

Mboweni published the economic reform blueprint in late August and asked for public feedback. At the time Peter Attard Montalto, head of capital markets research at Intellidex, said the minister's proposals "park reform tanks" on government's lawn.  

One proposal in the 77-page paper is for Eskom to consider selling coal-fired power stations to raise R450bn, roughly the same amount as its debt. 

An ailing economy 

The ANC's alliance partners have not supported most of the proposals in the document, nor the fact that it was made public before it was debated internally.

While Lamola said Mboweni would share more details on the economic deficit in his midterm budget review, he added that the country could have created a clearer path for economic emancipation over the last 10 years.

"Instead, we have inherited a budget deficit that is extremely high and an economy which can best be described as ailing," he said.

He told the audience that issues South Africans were debating and grappling with at the dinner table also concerned Cabinet, touching on gender-based violence and the president's R1.1bn emergency plan.

"We are now required to get the revolution back on track speedily and with a great sense of agility," he said.

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