‘A vision not a plan’ – Mbeki

Presidents past and present. Former president Thabo Mbeki (l) and President Cyril Ramaphosa (r) in conversation. Image:insidepolitic

‘A vision not a plan’ – Mbeki calls for a reboot of Ramaphosa’s economic recovery strategy

Thabo Mbeki has called for Nedlac to reconvene and conclude a workable plan, which must include proposals made by the Presidential Economic Advisory Council (PEAC) on economic recovery.

‘A vision not a plan’ – Mbeki

Presidents past and present. Former president Thabo Mbeki (l) and President Cyril Ramaphosa (r) in conversation. Image:insidepolitic

Former president Thabo Mbeki has urged President Cyril Ramaphosa to “rework” his Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan (ERRP) as he believes it is not “implementable” in its current form.

Ramaphosa released the ERRP late last year to shore up an already spluttering economy further ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic.

A ‘vision not a plan’

Speaking through his Thabo Mbeki Foundation (TMF), the former president said the government must accept that the ERRP, published on 15 October 2020, was essentially a “vision, and not the required transformative plan.”

“Accordingly, because of the size and strategic importance of the challenge to eradicate poverty, alienation and inequity, NEDLAC must reconvene to conclude a Strategic Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan (SERRP), Government must convene NEDLAC for this purpose as soon as possible.”

Mbeki wants NEDLAC to table an updated three-year (2021-2024) SERRP by 30 June 2021, adding that all stakeholders must be ready and willing to make hard choices, sacrifices, and trade-offs.

“Even as the NEDLAC negotiations are proceeding, Government should work seriously to build the required State capacity.”

Mbeki added that any plan must include elements to ensure the “active and informed involvement of the population in the implementation of the SERRP once it is completed.”

Thabo’s blueprint

Mbeki said it was clear that the social partners at Nedlac had not reached consensus as the government had pointed out, and that this was reflected in the drafting of a separate and more practicable plan, the Accelerated Economic Recovery Strategy (AERS), produced by Business 4 SA on behalf of organised business.

“Among other notable things is the fact that this is the very first time during the 26 years of our democracy that business has come together to make a public and solemn commitment to invest in the South African economy,” he said.

“Given the foregoing, the framing of the government document suggested that contrary to what the President (Ramaphosa) had said in his parliamentary address, in fact there was no substantive Nedlac agreement on economic reconstruction and recovery.”

Mbeki said the government had to incorporate the AERS plan into its 10-year ERRP, as it was a three-year implementable plan with the projected creation of 1.5 million jobs and an investment of R1 trillion from business.

Job creation, Mbeki said, must be at the heart of any recovery plan driven by aggressive infrastructure investment, re-industrialization, localization, and export promotion bolstered by resource mobilization and strengthening the State’s capacity.

Deep trouble

Ahead of Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) Thursday, ANC-alliance partner Cosatu said the President had to provide “concrete details” on how the ERRP would be implemented.

Cosatu national spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said the standard of living had deteriorated for the majority of South Africans and the austerity measures that Ramaphosa’s administration had imposed had resulted in reduced social expenditure and the deterioration of public services, IOL reported.

“We do not need new economic plans, but we need details and definitive time frames that will speak to the implementation of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan (ERRP).”

The thrust of the SONA needs to speak to the rapid implementation of the ERRP. The economy is in deep trouble and unemployment has surged past 50%, and it’s time for less talk and swift action,” Pamla said.