For The People

Exclusive Interview with ANC’s Zamani Saul

As a launch to The Solomon Star’s new YouTube channel, a video interview was held with the African National Congress’ Chairperson, Doctor Zamani Saul, as he spearheads the ANC’s election efforts. Be sure to watch the full interview on “Speaking plainly with Thabo Makweya”. Below are question and answer snippets from the main interview.

Dr Saul, your worst critics agree that you have the best policies in Africa and other parts of the world, however there seems to be a problem with the implementation of those policies. What do you attribute those problems to and how do you see yourself improving on that?

I think everyone agrees that the ANC has the best policies when it comes to improving the lives of the people. There a whole lot of issues that one can attribute to the failure of said implementation; one of the challenges could be the institutional capacity of the state. With the bureaucratic capacity you will find that some of the people are not adequately trained for some of the jobs that they are doing and in other cases there is just the glaring abdication of responsibilities. We will have to develop a new work ethic where public servants take their responsibilities seriously, they need to be at work on time and actually do the tasks that they are getting paid for.

The incidence of social grants is increasing across South Africa as our economy fails to grow at a rate that would reduce levels of dependency on social welfare. Is this sustainable and how will you deal with this increasing dependency on social grants?

In the Northern Cape at the moment we have about 170 000 grant beneficiaries and the population of the province is about 1,2 million, the number of people receiving grants therefore accounts for about 15% of the population. We have this grant program as a means to mitigate the consequences of poverty, but a long lasting solution to eradicating poverty is to ensure that we create decent jobs through economic growth in the province. Over the past ten years we have managed to put systems in place to ensure that we identify opportunities in the province to ensure that we grow our economy.

The South African education system continues to grapple with serious challenges and while all nine provincial departments of education are equally affected, the Northern Cape was one of the top performing provinces until about a decade ago. Last year you lambasted the poor matric results which saw the province slip to 7th place, or, in other words it has become the third worst performing province.

One of the ways of determining whether a provincial government is strong or not is by looking at their developmental outcomes. Matric results are one of those outcomes and with the last matric outcomes it is true that we were number seven out of nine provinces. For us, that is a serious indictment and it is very sad that that should be our reality. We only managed to beat two rural provinces; Limpopo and the Eastern Cape. We don’t accept those results because the Northern Cape is an urban province, not a rural province. We are very angry and have started the process of engaging with the Department of Education and we have made it clear that if there is no improvement in the performance of the department, there will definitely be consequences.

Please share with us what your plans are in the towns where you already have a lot of economic activity and how you plan to ensure that those towns don’t become ghost towns once the non-renewable resources have been depleted?

Our focus for our second phase of transition is a phase that will focus on radical economic transformation, it is also to diversify the economy because we cannot focus on the traditional economic structure of the Northern Cape when our primary focus is on mining and agriculture with regard to the primary economic activities. When we speak about mining, during the 2nd phase of the transition we speak about mining and beneficiation. There should be some process of adding value to the raw products that we are producing in the province. When we speak of agriculture, we speak of agriculture and agro-processing. There should also be a process of adding value to the raw products in the agricultural sector. Without that, we can forget about growing the economy for the province. We can also forget about creating jobs because if we produce raw products and we send those raw products to other provinces or countries for processing, effectively we are shipping jobs out of the province. The emphasis of this current phase of our transition, is that whatever is produced in the Northern Cape, needs to be backed by some form of secondary economic activities, processing and adding value in order for us to create more jobs.


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