Manuel beats the alliance; Maroga doesn't get its (official) backing
- Stephen Grootes
- 09 Nov 2009 01:35 (South Africa)
The ANC has decided: Trevor Manuel will chair the National Planning Commission. Oh, and we're worried (but won't get involved) in the Eskom leadership saga.
ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe doesn't want his party to get embroiled in the Jacob Maroga saga, publicly at least. But, when asked literally for a sound byte, he knows the party can't appear to be disinterested. So, the party is worried, "because that sector already has huge problems, and if there's a leadership struggle at the top, then we will have more problems." That's all you'll get from him. Our translation: we realise this is a complete cock-up but there's nothing we can do about it, and it's really government t's problem anyway.
Jacob Maroga is back at work at Eskom today, and it's not known if it's to clear out his desk or to go about business as usual. From what we hear, it's the latter. If that's the case, then what on earth happened on Sunday? Eskom chairman Bobby Godsell met President Jacob Zuma, and presumably that wasn't to discuss the virtues of single malts over blends. Stand by for a face-saving deal in the next few days.
What Mantashe will talk about is the (arguably more important if not controversial) National Planning Commission. For political nerds (like you and me) this has been the playing field for a massive falling out between the ANC and Cosatu and the SACP. Minister in the Presidency for Planning, Trevor Manuel has proposed in his green paper that he run the National Planning Commission. This is simply not on for the alliance partners. They proposed in their own document (parts of which were published as a front page lead in the Business Day last week), that the President or the Deputy President chair it instead.
The NPC sounds boring, but it could be a funneling point for virtually all government policy. In short, things like inflation targeting and the National Health Insurance Scheme will be decided there. It matters. As a result the partners aren't going to give up lightly.
They may find their objections irrelevant. The ANC's National Executive Committee hath decided from on high that, in Mantashe's words, "the chair of the NPC will be the minister in the presidency for planning". He doesn't want to say it directly, but the Alliance can go hang. It must have been a fun weekend for Blade Nzimande. He appears to be one of the architects of the alliance's proposal, and so has plenty to lose. Things like the NHI really really matter to all good communists, and already it appears the political rug has been pulled from underneath him.
However, the ANC is not stupid. There is a limit to how often it can go up against (or flat out screw over) its partners. And so it's spending the day in "bilateral" meetings with the pair of them. Technically, this is about preperations for a big alliance shindig this weekend. Politically, it's going to be about taking their rage on the chin behind closed doors, rather than waiting for the post-summit press conference, and leaks on Monday morning.
Mantashe's prepared thoroughly. He had another go at people "who attack and vilify" each other in public. Perhaps, he knows their anger needs to be managed, but he also wants to contain it.
By Stephen Grootes
(Grootes reports for Eyewitness News)