A veer­ing off-course – but it’s to be cor­rected

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - NATION - LUKHONA MNGUNI

THE ANC launched its man­i­festo with an ad­mis­sion that the party “made mis­takes and veered off course”.

As a re­sult the or­gan­i­sa­tion is re­solved “to work with our peo­ple to ad­dress this can­cer of cor­rup­tion in our so­ci­ety”.

This ad­mis­sion is im­por­tant if the ANC is to rekin­dle the love lost with some sec­tions of the elec­torate over the past 10 years. Silent in the ad­mis­sion is a tally of what these mis­takes were and how far off course did the move­ment de­rail. The elec­torate de­serves to know this in or­der to de­ter­mine whether or not the ANC ap­pears fit for pur­pose to drive the coun­try back from the brink of col­lapse be­cause of an ANC-led gov­ern­ment.

The man­i­festo for the 2019 gen­eral elec­tions is un­der the tag line “Let’s grow South Africa to­gether”. It builds on 2009’s “Work­ing to­gether we can do” and 2014’s “To­gether we move South Africa for­ward”.

The re­peated em­pha­sis on “to­geth­er­ness” is prob­a­bly de­rived from the mantra that “the ANC is the leader of so­ci­ety” in­tended to unite all pro­gres­sive forces un­der its ban­ner. The 2019 man­i­festo makes em­pha­sis on how gov­ern­ment, the pri­vate sec­tor, labour and civil so­ci­ety should work hand-in­hand to pur­sue trans­for­ma­tion of the econ­omy to serve the peo­ple.

Ide­o­log­i­cally and po­lit­i­cally, the idea of “the peo­ple” is sig­nif­i­cantly con­tested. Who are the peo­ple? This ques­tion ap­plies greatly to our con­text as the most un­equal so­ci­ety in the world.

The ANC will do well to clar­ify and ex­plic­itly state, with­out fear, who the peo­ple are; es­pe­cially those it imag­ines as be­ing sys­tem­at­i­cally locked out of eco­nomic par­tic­i­pa­tion.

The ANC iden­ti­fies 10 key ar­eas that need at­ten­tion for trans­for­ma­tion of the econ­omy: more jobs and de­cent jobs, broad­en­ing own­er­ship, a sus­tain­able land re­form pro­gramme, ad­dress­ing mo­nop­o­lies that lead to ex­ces­sive eco­nomic con­cen­tra­tion, an in­vest­ment plan, an in­dus­trial strategy, the dig­i­tal rev­o­lu­tion, small en­ter­prises, co-op­er­a­tives and town­ship and vil­lage economies, trans­form­ing and di­ver­si­fy­ing the fi­nan­cial sec­tor and de­vel­op­ing a macro-eco­nomic frame­work. These are not novel ideas from the ANC. It is a re­hash of its past ar­eas of fo­cus when mak­ing prom­ises to the elec­torate. Of in­ter­est is how the ANC pro­poses broad­en­ing the own­er­ship of the econ­omy through em­ployee own­er­ship schemes that would lead to work­ers own­ing a part of the com­pa­nies in which they work.

There is si­lence on com­mu­nity own­er­ship – a sig­nif­i­cant as­pect given the con­tin­ued pres­ence of the ex­trac­tive econ­omy through min­ing, oil and gas ex­plo­ration. Min­ing com­mu­ni­ties have been as­sert­ing them­selves through protest and lit­i­ga­tion as im­por­tant role play­ers in the ex­plo­ration of min­eral re­sources. The ab­sence of com­mu­ni­ties when think­ing of broad­en­ing eco­nomic par­tic­i­pa­tion makes the ANC ap­pear ig­no­rant of the cen­tral­ity of com­mu­ni­ties where in­dus­tries are placed.

The ANC ap­pears less am­bi­tious in its tar­gets this time around. The party pro­poses that it will cre­ate an ex­tra 275 000 jobs each year “by boost­ing lo­cal de­mand for goods, in­vest­ing more in min­ing, man­u­fac­tur­ing and agri­cul­ture and ex­pand­ing ex­port mar­kets”.

An­other av­enue to in­crease eco­nomic par­tic­i­pa­tion will be in­tern­ships and train­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties. Cou­pled with this will be the re­moval of work ex­pe­ri­ence “as a re­quire­ment for em­ploy­ment of young peo­ple, es­pe­cially in the pub­lic sec­tor, as it robs the youth of em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties”.

The job cre­ation tar­gets fall far be­hind the tar­get of the Na­tional Devel­op­ment Plan (NDP) that in­tended to see un­em­ploy­ment drop to 20% by 2020. This will not be achieved. Yet, the 2019 man­i­festo still gives cen­tral­ity to the NDP even though a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of am­bi­tious tar­gets and fun­da­men­tals to jump-start the South African econ­omy, con­tained in the NDP, are far from be­ing achieved.

The ANC is aware of this dif­fi­culty as it wants more plans to de­velop a macro-eco­nomic pol­icy frame­work that will “sup­port the dis­tinct and vi­brant social and sol­i­dar­ity econ­omy which is based on ad­dress­ing social and en­vi­ron­men­tal needs rather than profit max­imi­sa­tion”. This com­mit­ment is im­por­tant if the ANC is to build a mixed econ­omy that is re­spon­sive to the chal­lenges of in­come and as­set own­er­ship in­equal­ity that con­front our coun­try, much to the detri­ment of hopes and dreams of young peo­ple; es­pe­cially those who are black. This em­anates from the racialised hi­er­ar­chy of op­pres­sion de­vel­oped by the apartheid gov­ern­ment that was an evo­lu­tion of the colo­nial gov­ern­ing sys­tem. The ANC recog­nises that it ought to broaden its op­tions in the pur­suit of land re­form. The sup­port for land ex­pro­pri­a­tion with­out com­pen­sa­tion is clearly stated by the party.

How­ever, it sees this as one of the in­stru­ments that should be avail­able to ex­pe­dite land re­form.

The ANC is tight-lipped on other in­stru­ments to be im­ple­mented.

The man­i­festo also ad­dresses the ad­vance­ment of social trans­for­ma­tion, build­ing safer com­mu­ni­ties, fight­ing cor­rup­tion and pro­mot­ing in­tegrity, build­ing na­tional unity, em­brac­ing diver­sity and imag­ing South Africa in the world. Many of the ideas pro­posed un­der these ar­eas of the man­i­festo are sim­i­lar to those pro­posed in the 2009 and 2014 man­i­festos. What is in­ter­est­ing in this man­i­festo is the am­bi­tious tar­get to build “at least one new South African city of the fu­ture”.

I sup­pose Steyn City in this in­stance does not qual­ify as a city of the fu­ture and it will be in­ter­est­ing to hear the ANC un­pack where this city could be lo­cated. Dur­ing the man­i­festo launch there was a mo­ment worth cel­e­brat­ing. Ramaphosa called on all men present at Moses Mab­hida sta­dium to stand up and make a com­mit­ment to women that they will end gen­der-based vi­o­lence in so­ci­ety.

This her­alded a new era in the gov­ern­ing party be­ing ready to con­front the scourge of gen­der-based vi­o­lence. For some time ac­tivists have been ac­cus­ing gov­ern­ment of be­ing lack­lus­tre in the fight . For once the ANC iden­ti­fies some­thing as hav­ing reached “cri­sis pro­por­tions”.

This should bring great hope that gov­ern­ment may be mov­ing to­wards an agenda that seeks to eman­ci­pate women in so­ci­ety and have them en­joy the full ben­e­fits of our free­dom, with sig­nif­i­cant fo­cus on those who are per­pe­tra­tors of pa­tri­archy to un­learn and com­mit to a so­ci­ety that is truly in pur­suit of equal­ity for all.

Mnguni is a PhD can­di­date and re­searcher at the Mau­rice Webb Race Re­la­tions Unit, UKZN

SUP­PORT­ERS sing dur­ing the launch of the ANC’s 2019 elec­tion man­i­festo at Moses Mab­hida Sta­dium in Dur­ban yes­ter­day. | RO­GAN WARD REUTERS

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.