Mmusi Maimane, the DA leader on Monday said that President Jacob Zuma’s call for national government to rapidly speed up “radical economic transformation” was anything but “radical”.

He said the ANC government’s plans only existed to empower the already enriched, and do little for the almost 25 million poor, jobless and dependent South Africans who were still economic outsiders.

“Our economy does not need a face-lift, it needs an overhaul, and it’s high time the ANC comes to realise this point. At present, 16 million people in our country are dependent on the welfare of the state, and a further nine million are without a job,” Maimane said in a statement.

“That’s 25 million South Africans who are left out. Empowering those individuals, economically, is true radical transformation. Until we create an economic environment whereby those 25 million South Africans have access to the economy, transformation remains cosmetic and ineffectual.”

According to a report on Sunday, Zuma has instructed ANC policy makers to introduce stringent new laws on South Africa’s financial institutions, forcing them to sell stakes to black investors.

Maimane said that South Africa was divided into two worlds – those who are part of the economy, have access to wealth and resources, and those who are not.

“To merely re-empower the ANC connected elite is not the silver bullet for this dilemma. Rather, it serves only to cement the status quo of an insider or outsider economy, while further ostracising poor, unemployed and hopeless South Africans who remain left out.”

Maimane said that the poor relied on the government for survival needed help in ensuring that they became part of the inclusive economy.

“It is the unemployed, the shack dwellers, the subsistence farmers, the social grant recipients, the single mothers, the child-headed households and the homeless who rely on government for their survival. And they have been let down, because government’s plan has done very little, if anything at all, to ensure they become part of our inclusive economy,” he said.

“Economic transformation which is truly radical would see the economy being opened up to those who have been left out. It would create an enabling environment for growth by investing in economic infrastructure. It would provide direct incentives for job creation as well as making sure that labour laws support job creation.”

He said that the economic transformation would support small businesses as the primary medium for growth, as well as support redress that truly empowers those previously left out – and not the already enriched and well connected.

“Until the ANC government radically transforms its approach to the economy, any talk of meaningful economic transformation is empty rhetoric.”