We want solutions – Rapport, 26 April 2015

Frans Cronjé's interview with Mmusi Maimane in Rapport. This is an English translation.

FC: Young black South Africans got a pretty rough deal out of the 1994 transition with more than 50% of them being unemployed and less than half of them getting matric. What do you tell them when they say they are angry and demand radical transformation?

Many young black South Africans remain excluded from economic opportunities because of inferior schooling. But populist rhetoric won’t solve the problem. We need sustainable solutions. We need economic infrastructure that is reliable. We need tax incentives for established business people to participate in mentorship programmes. We need a National Venture Capital Fund to fund start-ups. We need to roll out Opportunity Centres where advice and support is readily available. We need a real Youth Wage Subsidy that benefits even the smallest of businesses.

FC: Despite their relatively privileged socio-economic status a lot of whites are also angry. What do you say to them when they ask if there is a future for them in SA?

The hope lies in building a non-racial vehicle at the centre of our politics that defends and promotes the rights of every person. The bigger the DA, and the more diverse our support base, the better the chance we have of challenging the ANC for power. My goal is to take the DA to the next level.

FC: A number of mid and large size businesses have told us that labour laws, trade union action, empowerment policy, and threats to property rights are driving them out of South Africa. What do we need to do to bring them back again?

We need to deregulate the labour market to make job creation easier and we need to encourage responsible trade unionism. We need empowerment policies that offer incentives to businesses to create jobs instead of repeatedly empowering the same connected few. More than anything, we need to defend property rights because, without secure property rights, our economy will fail and all will be worse off.

FC: Better empowerment policy is critical but is race the correct criteria to build those policies around or should we ditch race in favour of measurable socio-economic disadvantage?
We need to be clear that apartheid was a system that discriminated against people on the basis of their race. This explains why most South Africans living in poverty are black. Our challenge is to implement measures to redress this injustice, without entrenching new forms of racial discrimination. That is why we reject racial quotas. Instead, we support programmes that actively promote advancement by extending opportunity.

FC: Where do you stand on the argument that the willing buyer-seller model of land reform has failed and that the State should intervene to expropriate land?

I disagree with that argument. It is the state that has failed to implement the willing buyer-seller model through its own administrative incompetence. Expropriation without compensation is the surest way to destroy our economy. Instead, we need to increase the capacity of the state to implement fair and sustainable land reform. In particular, I support voluntary Farm Equity Schemes that give workers a stake in the land they work on.