Ask political parties questions, demand answers


Are our political parties offering the kind of policies that will put South Africa on the road to recovery? Agenda 2019, a project of the Centre for Development and Enterprise (CDE) aims to empower voters to find out.

Speaking at the launch of Agenda 2019, CDE executive director Ann Bernstein said, “elections are about the policy choices that will shape our growth prospects, which in turn will determine our ability to address our crises of unemployment, poverty and inequality.”

“We need to get beyond the slogans. Voters (and journalists) should ask tough questions about the policies various parties propose to implement and demand answers from political parties.”

CDE’s Agenda 2019 is a series of short policy briefs aimed at providing voters with information on critical policy issues. They provide factual summaries of the issues facing the country and highlight questions that voters should be asking about how political parties propose to deal with the many challenges they would face as an incoming government.

Introducing the first Agenda 2019 brief: Tackling youth unemployment, Ms Bernstein said: “This is SA’s most critical social challenge. Are parties proposing the economic reforms needed for firms to prosper and, in the process to employ more people? What are they saying about the causes of unemployment and the kind of policies needed to address this?”

“Critical questions for an incoming government include whether to support the current focus on high labour standards and high wages at the expense of the unemployed. What prevents SA developing labour-intensive sectors such as light manufacturing and tourism? How can regulatory burdens on new and small firms be lessened?”

Creating cities of hope is the subject of a second Agenda 2019 brief.

“South Africa’s future is urban” said Bernstein. “Our cities could become platforms for growth and inclusion, but national policy-makers don’t devote anywhere near enough time, energy and resources to making this happen.”

“How we overcome the apartheid spatial legacy is one of the most critical long-term challenges to becoming more prosperous,” she said, “and we want to give voters the tools to test what the political parties are planning.”

“How would parties integrate townships into thriving, unified urban economies? How would they work with private business to promote urban-led growth and how would they provide access to affordable housing close to centres of economic activity?”

Bernstein concludes: “SA’s future depends on its capacity to adopt policies that generate rapid, employment-intensive growth. The only way to do this is for a smart state to allow the private sector to lead and our cities to thrive.”

Agenda 2019 is designed to enable voters and journalists to ask crucial questions of political parties about cities, growth and jobs. And, hopefully, to demand answers.

The first two reports are now available.

Agenda 2019, Tackling Youth Unemployment – report and infographic
Agenda 2019, Creating Cities of Hope – report and infographic
They can also be found at

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