Economic ‘war talk’ warning

ZUMA CRITIC: Professor Barney Pityana addresses the SaveSA meeting last night
Picture: MARK WEST

SaveSA speakers slate Zuma, draw parallels with Zimbabwe’s decline under Mugabe

Radical economic transformation is rubbish – a term spewed by leaders with no plan to improve the economy and high levels of illiteracy. This is what staunch President Jacob Zuma critic and former Unisa vice-chancellor Professor Barney Pityana had to say at a SaveSA gathering in KwaNobuhle last night.

Speaking to a crowd of about 300 people at the Babs Madlakane Hall, Pityana laid into Zuma, saying he was causing further damage to the country the longer he remained at the helm.

He was echoed by former superintendent-general of the Eastern Cape Department of Education, Advocate Modidima Mannya.

While Mannya drew parallels between South Africa and Zimbabwe, Pityana said the recent downgrades by two ratings agencies to junk status meant the country would soon have to borrow more money, at high interest rates, to service its debt.

“When they put you on junk status, they are saying it is risky to lend you money and they increase your interest rates,” he said.

He accused Zuma of firing former finance minister Pravin Gordhan and his deputy Mcebisi Jonas because they refused to sign off on the controversial nuclear deal.

“[Malusi] Gigaba knew he was going to be appointed as minister of finance and what was expected of him was to sign the nuclear deal,” Pityana said.

He said that under Gigaba, Zuma had a free hand to do as he pleased with the national Treasur y.

Meanwhile, Mannya spoke about the lack of proper education in the country.

He said in a country like South Africa, with high illiteracy levels and a lack of skills, you could not talk about radical economic transformation without saying how you would improve those issues.

“What they are saying about radical economic transformation does not make sense under the capitalist economic system we are following,” Mannya said.

He likened the use of the words white monopoly capital to antiBritish rhetoric President Robert Mugabe used to incite Zimbabweans to seize white-owned farms in his country.

Mannya said: “Everything was going well in Zimbabwe until Mugabe started his own style of land reform.

“This [white monopoly capital] is another war talk to psyche the minds of the people, similar to how Mugabe stirred Zimbabweans to force the whites out of the land, a move which destroyed the country’s economy.”

He said the downgrade to junk status was punishment for unethical leadership.

“We say one thing but do the opposite. We send ministers [Gordhan and Jonas] to talk to investors – when they arrive we tell them to come back. What message are we sending?” Mannya asked.

People should be careful not to be held to ransom because they were getting social security grants. No government could do away with grants, because they were in the constitution, he said.

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