Business and Development: Before you Vote, As Questions, Demand Answers

Faster growth, and the jobs it brings, should trump all other government priorities. Yet per capita GDP has actually fallen in three out of the four years since 2015. Without policy change, the economy will continue to stagnate, and South Africa’s social contract, constitution, and democratic fabric will continue to unravel. South Africa faces an unemployment nightmare. More than 37% of working age people who want to work do not have a job. Government has in the main responded with programmes to compensate citizens for their exclusion, rather than with policies to promote labour-intensive growth. These achieve some laudable goals, but it is very hard to see how most can be scaled up, and even the largest ones cannot grow without increasing taxes. Policymakers have failed to appreciate that economic growth is driven by a dynamic private sector: firms are the best, most sustainable vehicles for generating wealth and employment. Yet, in the face of bad, inconsistent and uncertain policies, business confidence is once again declining. Citizens can use the 2019 elections to ask parties how they will make enterprise-led growth happen. They deserve and should demand answers.