‘There is too much despair’ in SA, says Gordhan

South Africans currently lack the hope and optimism that former president Nelson Mandela's generation had, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said on Monday.

"There is too much despair … We need to recognise the good work we've done," he said at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Houghton, north of Johannesburg.

"It's important that South Africans know we are not a dismal country."

Gordhan was speaking at the release of a Goldman Sachs report titled "Two decades of freedom: What South Africa is doing with it, and what now needs to be done".

He said the country had achieved a lot in a short time despite there still being problems.

The country had the ability to rise to greater heights but there needed to be an emphasis on growth and the current generation needed to realise that change did not come easily.

"There is hard work to do. There are sacrifices [that need to be made] and innovative things we need to do," Gordhan said.

"Can we move from a 'me' generation to an 'us' generation?"

Goldman Sachs report 
The Goldman Sachs report provided an analysis of how South Africa had changed in the past 20 years and its position in the world.

It identified 10 areas in which the country had made structural advances, the 10 largest remaining problems, and the 10 key issues which had to be addressed.

Goldman Sachs partner managing director Colin Coleman presented the report on Monday.

"As we approach 20 years of democracy in South Africa we have an opportunity to take a step back and get a long range factual perspective," he said.

Business Leadership South Africa chairperson Bobby Godsell said, when looking at the country the glass was both half full and half empty.

It was half full in that it reminded people it was a better country than it was in 1994, but half empty in that more needed to be done.

"Is this as good as it gets?" Godsell asked.

The country needed to be stirred into joint action, he said.

'Become a patriot'
He said some programmes carried the hope of the country working together. These included the National Development Plan (NDP) and the National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT).

"The NDP has given a framework for South Africans to think of the future," he said.

"It calls upon all South Africans to become a patriot."

He said the NECT was the best promise of real change in education. It had brought together government, business, labour and civil society.

Godsell called it a "real national programme".

Focus on inclusive growth
Gordhan later on Monday said South Africa needs to focus on inclusive growth.

The starting point for inclusivity was education, he said.

"Government has … done extremely well to widen access to the vast majority of South African children, but the quality of education is the next challenge we need to take on," Gordhan said.

"Focusing on technology and education and on upgrading teachers will give young South Africans a better future."

The second requirement for inclusivity was jobs.

"It is a well-established fact that if young people don't have their first job experience, we and they have a despairing future.

"We must ensure we take as many young people [as possible] off the streets," he said.

Health and education sectors
"[The public sector] needs to up its game," Coleman said.

There needed to be more productivity, especially in the health and education sectors, good management, and education that prepared people for employment.

According to the report, there needed to be a special focus on youth unemployment. Seventy percent of the unemployed were under the age of 34.

"We cannot have a generation left behind," Coleman said.

There was a need for a labour pact for sustainable growth and employment and balanced wage and productivity growth.

Coleman said the country needed a "team South Africa" response, everyone working together to tackle problems.

"We know what needs to be done. We need effective team work and execution excellence," he said.

"We have the people and the capital. We have the talent and the tools to execute well." – Sapa

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