Prom­ises, prom­ises...

Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa made all the right noises dur­ing the ANC elec­tion man­i­festo – but it’s all show to fos­ter party unity, ex­perts say.

The Citizen (Gauteng) - - FRONT PAGE - Brian Sokutu bri­[email protected]­i­ Ad­di­tional re­port­ing by The­Con­ver­sa­

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 The­Con­ver­sa­, 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.

Isit­wa­landwe Pic­ture: Nigel Sibanda

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.

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