Reuters Africa

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South Africa’s economy is still mostly under the control of whites who held power under apartheid and the government needs to take more drastic steps to make sure the black majority can benefit from its wealth, President Jacob Zuma said on Tuesday.

Zuma, speaking at the start of a major policy meeting of his ruling African National Congress, said the challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality posed long-term risks for Africa’s richest country 18 years after the end of apartheid.

“The structure of the apartheid-era economy has remained largely intact,” Zuma told several thousand ANC delegates.

“The ownership of the economy is still primarily in the hands of white males as it has always been,” he said.

The ANC has drafted a raft of policy documents that call on mining firms to pay more to the state to help finance welfare spending. The proposals also advocate relying on state-owned enterprises to be engines of job creation and growth.

“The time has come to do something more drastic towards economic transformation and freedom,” Zuma said.

But some economists have warned it would be dangerous to rely on state-owned firms since almost all of them have been mired in debt and management problems.

Zuma also said the debate over how the country’s mining wealth should be shared should go beyond simply the question of “to nationalise or not to nationalise.”  Read more…