ActionSA Charts New Path Towards Economic Justice

Today I delivered the keynote speech on the topic of Economic Justice at ActionSA’s inaugural Policy Conference. To borrow the painful words that the late Archbishop Tutu once said, “Our Rainbow Nation that so filled the world with hope is being reduced to a grubby shadow of itself. The fabric of the nation is splitting at the seams ….”

This is certainly the reality our country finds itself in. Our country’s legacy of racial division remains unresolved. Instead, we are starting to see other divides and prejudices starting to manifest; we are becoming an intolerant nation and further divided.

The current ruling government’s failure to address socioeconomic injustices over the last three decades has contributed to the increased marginalisation of many South Africans.

ActionSA is striving towards a South Africa that is no longer characterized by division and inequality but is rather set on achieving economic justice.

ActionSA’s objective is to ensure that everyone, regardless of their circumstances, have access to equal opportunities for success. This can be achieved by knocking down human development barriers propelled by the apartheid government’s discriminatory policies. As an organisation, we support black empowerment.

When we refer to black, we are referring to all racial groups that were discriminated against by the Apartheid government. This includes coloured people, Indians, and Asians. BEE, in its current form, has failed to uplift black South Africans and it is for this reason we have developed innovative and viable solutions to address inequality in South Africa.

One of them is the Opportunity Fund, funded by partially by corporate profits that are currently being spent on BEE compliance, and will be applicable for 30 years. This fund will be used to create access to entrepreneurial funding and tertiary education. The Opportunity Fund goes far beyond being a mere replacement of BEE, it extends towards the launch of financial literacy, education and awareness programmes to ensure that we drive socio-economic development through the deployment of capital socially transformative programmes.

Besides economic interventions, other aspects such as healthcare, education, energy security, corruption, law and order, climate, and the environment also assist in promoting the economic and social justice that is required to build a just and inclusive society.

In terms of Gender Equality, it is essential that society-level awareness campaigns that promote gender equality and gender justice are implemented. Efforts include educational programs to address gender-based violence and placing light on the responsibility of men to reduce it.

Regarding land reform, it is important that we consider how to give people access to land and property that is aligned with shifts in people’s preferences for where to live while ensuring access to clean, safe, and inclusive living spaces. Land reform can be accelerated immediately within the current constitutional framework, and the institutions responsible for land reform should be sufficiently qualified.

Essentially, for economic justice to succeed, it is important to begin from the ground up by focusing on the root causes that have widened the gap, particularly in the last 30 years of democracy. It is important that we remove the structural barriers that have affected all marginalised groups, ranging from people living with disabilities to members of the LGBTQIA+ community and black people, who have all faced injustices.