Honourable Speaker
Mr President and
Honourable Members

1. Introduction

The United Democratic Movement (UDM) welcomes President Ramaphosa’s ideas around South Africa’s Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan, especially the use of massive infrastructure development projects, and the rebuilding and cultivation of manufacturing industries.

However, Mr President, we have heard this noise before, and ask that you at least publish a map of the areas that will be targeted so that we can clearly see what is going to happen; where; and when.

2. The role of “big business”

The role of the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) and their commitments were mentioned, but the UDM believes that we have not had any meaningful commitment in terms of big capital investment from “big business”.

An unfortunate trait of our economy is that government has become a main source of easy money through contracts and tenders, which have been fraught with abuse and corruption.

On this score I also want to add that government has been an extremely poor customer as it tolerates unfinished projects and shoddy workmanship.

3. Use of pension funds

One matter, Mr President, which I would like to tack onto the debate is government’s continued use of the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) in an irresponsible manner. It is immoral that these monies are used to make instant millionaires and billionaires, who are in it for themselves and their families.

The Public Investment Corporation (PIC) is supposedly investing GEPF’s monies, but it is unacceptable that the PIC’s funding models are not producing sustainable, job-creating, businesses.

Moreover, it is worrying that the PIC, and here I include the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), are not administering their debt rosters properly and the hyenas are either unable to, or wilfully do not, service their loans. Billions of Rands are then lost through write-offs.

In addition, monies are lost through international companies that exploit BEE policies, using local people to syphon billions of Rands from our shores. Equally so, at home, we have seen the likes of Jayendra Naidoo losing with Steinhoff and he owes the PIC R15 billion. How ironic that an ex-trade unionist risked and lost workers’ money so extravagantly.

As a parting shot, Mr President, the UDM advises that you urgently request the lists of loans issued by government funding bodies to establish how bad the situation is, as I suspect the picture will not be as rosy as the managements of these bodies would like us to believe.

The UDM also encourages government workers, unions, and pension associations to demand a meeting with the managements of the GEPF and the PIC to satisfy themselves that their monies will henceforth be invested properly.

I thank you