DA leader Helen Zille (CC image courtesy of the Democratic Alliance on Flickr)
South African opposition party the Democratic Alliance (DA) has released its 2014 election manifesto, promising a new regulatory framework for ICT, the breakup of state-owned monopolies and support for startups and entrepreneurs.
The manifesto said ICT was crucial to South Africa’s future due to its ability to break down boundaries between people, businesses and nations through communication.
“Information and communication technology (ICT) is therefore vital to the development and wellbeing of all who live, work and play in South Africa,” the manifesto said. “It enables us to contribute to, share in and benefit from the opportunities of a networked world. It connects people to education, jobs, opportunities and each other.”
The manifesto stressed internet should be available to all South Africans, which is already a central part of government policy, but that the DA would further promote this by “establishing a new regulatory framework for the ICT sector to ensure that broadband capacity improves, that prices fall and that the internet becomes accessible to all”, while it also said it would invest in “low-cost, high-speed communication infrastructure that the economy needs to grow”.
“Every person in South Africa should have access to the internet,” the DA said. “This will be achieved both by supporting the private sector to expand access to ICT and using government resources to provide ICT infrastructure and services in under-serviced areas.”
The party also pledged to break up “inefficient state monopolies”, distributing shares to citizens, in effort to increase competition and bring down prices, while it would also explore the privatisation of “uncompetitive state-owned enterprises”.
HumanIPO reported last month the DA’s Communications Policy had called for the breakup of the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) into separate commercial entities and the privatisation of other state-owned entities, as well as the separation of the wholesale and retail operations of part state-owned operator Telkom into two companies and the sale of government-owned shares in the new entities.
The manifesto also said a DA government would give “operating licences to additional fixed-line operators to encourage competition in the ICT sector, bring down prices and improve service delivery for consumers.”
In a manifesto focused on job creation, the party promised a focus on entrepreneurship and startups in South Africa.
“Analysts say that if we want to create six million new jobs, we must create more than
one million new businesses,” the DA said. “This highlights the importance of small business in any policy offer that has job creation as its top priority.”
With this in mind, the DA vowed to establish opportunity centres providing support to small businesses, roll out small business incubators where small businesses can share resources, and provide small business owners with an Opportunity Card to improve awareness of, and access to, free or discounted training, business support services and business advisory services such as insurance and accounting.
It also said the party would “work to reduce the red tape that makes it so hard to establish a business in South Africa”, and “make it easier for small businesses to win government contracts”, via an e-procurement system and the establishment of a National Venture Capital Fund to provide initial funding for startups and early-stage businesses.
The DA also said it would establish a web-based portal where innovators and designers can “access information on the types of support available for R&D in various areas, the funding cycles for financial support, application processes and opportunities for research partnerships”.
It also promised to eliminate exchange controls to allow the efficient and productive flow of capital.
In line with the party’s previous public opposition to former communications minister Dina Pule and the e-tolling of Gauteng’s highways, the manifesto also stated an intention to crack down on corruption and avoid tolling of commuter routes.
DA leader Helen Zille said: “Jacob Zuma’s ANC is indifferent to the daily struggles of the millions of South Africans excluded from the economy. There are more unemployed South Africans today than ever before. That is why the DA’s manifesto is about working together for jobs. The DA’s carefully tested and budgeted policies would grow the economy fast enough to create six million real, full-time jobs by 2024.”