The fundamental areas that will help us to change completely - Zuma

Cape Town - President Jacob Zuma says government will prioritise narrowing the inequality gap between the rich and the poor through radical economic transformation.

The President said this when unpacking his State of the Nation Address during The New Age business briefing at the Grand West Casino on Friday.

“People will tell you that the gap between the poor and the rich is widening. Now that is not the direction we want to take.

“We want the country to move forward. We want to get rid of the three challenges that face us – poverty, inequality and unemployment and these are the critical challenges that if we do not resolve them, we have not resolved the issue of freedom.

“And therefore, it has become absolutely important as to what is it do we do in order to achieve prosperity,” he said.

Delivering the State of the Nation Address in the National Assembly on Thursday evening, the President cited a report from the National Empowerment Fund (NEF), which states that only 10% of the top 100 companies on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange are owned by black South Africans through the black empowerment codes.

He also said that in terms of the 2015/16 information submitted to the Employment Equity Commission, the representation of whites at top management level amounted to 72%, while African representation was at 10%.

The representation of Coloureds stood at 4.5% and Indians 8.7%.

The report further provides that white South Africans, in particular males, are afforded higher levels of recruitment, promotion and training opportunities, compared to the designated groups.

Responding to questions from SABC presenter Peter Ndoro, the President said despite efforts by government to introduce progressive transformative policies over the past 22 years of democracy, challenges still persist at an economic level.

He said it is for this reason that government should radically transform the economy to make it more inclusive and to ensure that black people, particularly women and youth, are given an opportunity to participate in the economy.

“It is therefore important for us to say - how do we make our policies work more effectively?

“There is an issue that is very important to the nation that has a very serious historical background – the land question. Now, can we sit with the land that is so skewed in terms of who controls it?

“We need to address the issue of the land and ensure that we are able to deal with that question,” said the President.

He added that if these issues are dealt with “we will actually be dealing with the fundamental areas that will help us to change completely”.

– SAnews.gov.za