President Cyril Ramaphosa made all the right noises during the ANC election manifesto – but it’s all show to foster party unity, experts say.
Party has yet to develop toolbox for mobilisation and implementation.
The ANC’s 2019 election manifesto is weak on government policy and solving national problems and more focused on fostering unity and the renewal of the ruling party, according to political analyst Ralph Mathekga.
The ANC over the weekend unveiled an election manifesto aimed at addressing historical socio-economic imbalances in the country that have persisted since 1994. But Mathekga said there was nothing new in it.
“The question is, can the ANC get rid of corruption in its ranks implicating high-ranking officials?” asked Mathekga.
“Election manifestos are about the aggressive expedition to what should be achieved by government.
“Maintaining a balance between the ANC and government is important. A lot of effort has gone into ensuring Ramaphosa was not embarrassed in Durban by members of some party factions.
“A lot was focused on the divisions within the ANC,” said Mathekga. “The ANC has been pushed into a corner due to what happened under former president Jacob Zuma.”
Mathekga said the biggest challenge for the ANC was to build trust among voters. “Generally, political parties in South Africa are on a decline. They are underwhelming and going into the elections with mediocre status.”
Among the plans the president spoke of was to raise R1.2 trillion in new investments over five years.
“Working with all social partners, we will intensify our efforts to restore investor, business and consumer confidence and ensure policy consistency and certainty.
“We will implement reforms in economic sectors that have the greatest potential to grow and create jobs. We will take measures to lower the cost of doing business in South Africa, increase productivity and improve competitiveness.
“We will implement the agreements reached at the Presidential Jobs Summit last year by boosting local demand for goods, investing more in sectors like mining, manufacturing and agriculture, and expanding export markets,” Ramaphosa said.
“It is estimated that this could contribute about 275 000 additional jobs each year, nearly doubling the annual rate of employment creation.
“We will proceed with the establishment of an infrastructure fund, in which we will pool government’s infrastructure budget and use it to raise additional funds from other public and private sources to build roads, rail lines, broadband networks, hospitals, schools, dams and other infrastructure vital for a growing economy.”
The president also promised that his administration would “use government’s massive procurement spend to support transformation and job creation, including allocating at least 30% of procurement spend to small businesses and cooperatives”.
Cheryl Hendricks, executive director of the Africa Institute of South Africa in the Human Sciences Research Council, agreed there was little new in the promises.
In a piece published on TheConversation.com, Hendricks wrote: “The ANC has been making these promises since it came to power 25 years ago. What is going to be different this time around so that implementation can yield the desired results?”
She said public sector workers needed to change their attitudes and do what they were employed to do and graft had to be rooted out. “The country needs to have many local dialogues in all its nine provinces that develop a new charter for South Africans to live by.
“A plan that emanates from the people, for the people,” she wrote.
She also questioned the continued signs of support for Zuma, and how this could affect the attempts by Ramaphosa to regain the public’s trust in the ANC.
“The roar of support for Zuma as he left the stadium is a telling sign of the deep divisions within the ANC, despite the shows of solidarity.
“It’s still an open question as to whether the change in leadership is enough to ensure that the party – and the country – doesn’t make a U-turn and head back towards the path of despair,” Hendricks wrote.
“For now, all the right noises are being made to, as Ramaphosa put it, 'restore our democratic institutions and return our country to a path of transformation, growth and development’.
“But the ANC still needs to develop the toolbox for mobilisation and implementation to get this done.
“The vision articulated by Ramaphosa has the seeds for galvanising South Africans to get back on the right path. It urgently needs a plan to make it happen.” –
Country needs to develop a new charter
You will forgive our cynical response to President Cyril Ramaphosa, who wants South Africans, yet again, to trust the ANC with the running of the country. In launching the ANC’s 2019 election manifesto in Durban yesterday, Ramaphosa admitted that the organisation had “made some mistakes” regarding transformation. Although it is heartening that the leader of the party can acknowledge this fact – how could he not, though? – his comments are a good contender for the Ironic Understatement of the Year.
Then, in his best salesman voice, he went on to say that the “ANC is working” and that it is “fixing” South Africa’s problems.
Like his predecessor Jacob Zuma – who is still the one looking over Ramaphosa’s shoulder, judging from the way he shared the limelight (as if he is being promoted for sainthood, never mind accused of facilitating widespread looting of State coffers) – Ramaphosa made grandiose promises. This time it was a more modest 275 000 new jobs, compared to the half a million Zuma promised a few years ago ... just before unemployment soared.
The manifesto, said the president, will help launch a skills revolution in South Africa, echoing his previous belief in this country being a major player in the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” ... while just 40% of pupils starting Grade 1 manage to pass Matric.
In politics, one should never take election manifestos too seriously. Most are misleading advertising – and the ANC one is no different.
But Ramaphosa clearly has a long way to go in neutralising Zuma and his lackeys, so we should perhaps cut the president some slack.
On the other hand, he must not succumb to the temptation of playing the populist card too many times. That could have long-term and negative effects, which will cancel out all the fine dreams of the manifesto.
THE BRAVE. ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa helps struggle hero Sophie de Bruyn with her Isitwalandwe/Seaparankoe award head-dress at the ANC’s election manifesto launch on Saturday in Durban. means ‘the one who wears the plumes of the rare bird’ and is traditionally bestowed on the bravest warriors.