Durban – Economic freedom is the biggest problem still facing the majority of black people in South Africa, African National Congress (ANC) head of policy Jeff Radebe said on Saturday.
“The majority of our people have not gained economically. Many black people have been locked out. Our country’s economy is in the hands of a few white people, mainly men. That’s why we’re not hesitant when we say there’s a need for radical economic transformation in this country,” Radebe said.
He was speaking to ANC cadres in Umzinto, Port Shepstone, on the lower south coast of KwaZulu-Natal.
Radebe said the National Democratic Revolution has given them democratic and political freedom.
“The next stage is to transform our economy so that it can be in the hands of the majority of black people, the youth, those in rural areas and women,” he said.
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He warned that the prosperous path that the ANC seek to achieve “has not been realised, not fully, and not yet.
“And this is precisely what the National Democratic Revolution now must seek to yield. To succeed in this colossal effort, we must leave no stone unturned. To this commitment we must remain unflinching, undeterred and unyielding – it is about radical-socio economic transformation,” said Radebe.
While the ANC-led government continued to make significant progress since 1994, “our people have expressed dissatisfaction at the lack of transformation in the economy.
“Our core constituencies – poor, working and deep rural communities, women and young people – do not enjoy the economic benefits of freedom and democracy.
“Our inability to radically transform the economy to benefit the majority of South Africans has hampered growth, increased inequality and maintained the economic exclusion and marginalisation of the majority of our people. This cannot continue,” he said.
The ANC, as the governing party 23 years since the dawn of democratic rule, must spearhead transformation and unlock the economic potential of our country and its resources, he said.
“The private sector must simply take a step up and show a greater willingness to be an active partner in promoting and advancing the interest and welfare of the majority of our people. It can no longer be ‘business as usual’,” warned Radebe.
Despite more than R600bn of BEE transactions from 1995 to 2015 among the top 40 Johannesburg Stock Exchange shares, this has not benefitted ordinary people.
“Meaning the majority of our people are effectively excluded and marginalised. How can this be?” he asked.
Radebe who is also an ANC presidential hopeful, hinted that he was ready to succeed the party’s president, Jacob Zuma.
“As I stand before you here today [Saturday], I submit that I stand ready to serve, ready to roll up my sleeves and ready to effect the difference we want to see. I realised it is up to me and us – the ANC collective – to make it happen,” he said.