ROAD TO JULY CONFERENCE
Policy documents reveal how ANC failed to implement key economic strategies over five years
The governing party’s policy documents reveal its shortcomings since 2017, and what it will need to do to revive the country’s ailing economy. The ANC wants to change its cadre deployment policy and accelerate its renewal project. The party’s next policy conference is due to take place in July.
The ANC has released discussion documents ahead of its policy conference scheduled for July. They detail how the party has failed to implement some of its key economic policies, resulting in the country facing further downgrades by credit rating agencies.
“As we approach the policy conference and national conference later this year, the ANC will have an opportunity to reflect on our economic policy resolutions and consider areas where our interventions should be strengthened, reconsidered and reviewed,” the documents read.
“This will allow the ANC to take into account the impact of subjective weaknesses as well the objective realities which are shaping the domestic and international terrain so that we can sharpen and improve the impact of our resolutions and programme of growth, job creation and economic transformation.”
Some of the areas in which the party acknowledged slow or minimal progress include land redistribution without compensation, and moving towards reducing huge pay gaps in the private sector.
The ANC is concerned that it has not managed to change the “historical anomaly” of the South African Reserve Bank having private shareholders.
And its resolution to advance tourism as a key growth and job creation sector was impacted negatively by the pandemic.
The party noted that the strengthening of state-owned mining entities and establishing the Postbank as a state bank are areas in which the government only managed to reach the discussion phase.
The documents mention that limited progress has been made in considering new wealth taxes.
“The objective of reducing huge pay gaps in the private sector has not been effectively advanced, although improved education and training outcomes should assist in expanding the pool of skills and structurally begin to reduce the gap,” according to the documents.
While the 2017 discussion documents have a sharp focus on radical socioeconomic transformation, the party has had to look for ways to rebuild the economy. This is mainly because the pandemic has shrunk the country’s economy, resulting in job losses.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in severe contraction of world economies. There has been a huge surge in unemployment globally and on the continent in particular. South Africa’s official unemployment rate at the beginning of 2022 stood at 35.5% as a consequence of the shrinkage of the economy.
“The investment rate has declined. Overall, poverty and inequality have worsened.
“The economic reconstruction and recovery plan, as well as refinements being introduced, provide an opportunity to embark on a new growth path and achieve a sustainable economic future based on economic inclusion, high rates of employment and better levels of social equity.
“Sustainability also entails a just transition to a low carbon future, sensitive to urgent environmental imperatives and the impact of the transition on the working people,” say the discussion documents.
The party is looking to abandon an element of its governance model through changing the cadre deployment system, which has always given preference to ANC members to be employed in public office.
The party believes it should be weighing its options – even if it means looking outside the party for efficient deployees.
Cadre deployment has been widely criticised by opposition parties. The DA filed an application under the Promotion of Access to Information Act to obtain the minutes of deployment committee meetings. This was in order to assess the extent of the ANC’s involvement in the placement of its comrades in key positions in government and state-owned entities.
This came after ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa’s testimony at the State Capture Commission. Ramaphosa told the commission that he did not recall minutes being taken during the committee’s meetings, when he chaired the committee as the country’s then deputy president.
The committee is responsible for making recommendations on the appointment of ANC members to government and state-owned entities.
“The pool from which the ANC needs to elect the requisite collective skill sets for deployment as public representatives in government at all levels can no longer be limited to members in good standing in the ANC.
“It needs to be substantially broadened, so we can use the best available human resources to serve our people.
“To this end, a new process must be devised to elect such public representatives, at all levels of government, to achieve the optimal outcomes to enable the ANC to access the best human resources to make it a successful governing party which delivers to our people.
“Consideration should also be given to introducing a more objective fact-based performance management system of all ANC public representatives. So, we retain those performing well and not lose skills because of subjective processes and factional activity in the ANC,” the documents read.
This has been a long time coming as the ANC, in its 2017 documents, stated the need to re-evaluate political deployments.
“Political deployment needs to be replaced by a focus on building a professional public service that serves the government correctly, but which is insulated from problems associated with political patronage.
“Systems must be put in place to ensure that technical, specialist and professional skills are nurtured and developed among public servants.
“Relations between the three spheres of government must be improved.
“Roles and functions between various spheres of government should be clarified and the national government should intervene to mediate disputes in this regard and enable consensus to emerge,” the 2017 discussion documents read.
Renewal and unity
In 2017, the ANC was already looking at ways of renewing itself – however, in the last year, the party has been more aggressive in its stance.
The party looked to the French Socialist Party, the Labour Party of Britain, the Indian Congress Party and the Social Democratic Party of Germany as case studies just months before the Nasrec conference unfolded.
“There must be a strategic shift from evaluating the performance of the branches based on the number of new members acquired (quantity) to the ability of the branch to be able to do political and ideological work, including implementation of organisational programmes in a manner that attracts the progressive and potentially talented members of new layer of activists that can be transformed into ANC cadres,” according to the 2017 policy documents.
The ANC was also looking to find ways in which they could include communities in the election of leadership.
“This document takes its line from the discussion document titled ‘The eye of the needle’ in validating the nature and the character of an ANC leader.
“The document takes the view that the election of ANC leaders is a matter of societal interests as they are entrusted with a responsibility of leading, not only the ANC, but the society as a whole.
“As argued elsewhere in the document, efforts should be made to canvas communities’ views on those cadres who make themselves available for leadership positions, and whom, by virtue of their position, are likely to serve in the leadership positions in government,” the 2017 document reads.
Since then, the ANC has introduced the community voting system which was used in 2021 to nominate councillor candidates for the local government elections. While the party might have taken a bold step in implementing this policy, it was not welcomed or efficiently used by all its members.
Some disputes emanating from the processes showed that there were instances where the community voting process was not done correctly or was not used at all.
The party earlier this year selected members of the renewal commission, led by agriculture minister Thoko Didiza.
#ANC Renewal Commission:
Thoko Didiza (Chairperson), Naledi Pandor, Joel Netshitenzhe, Zingiswa Losi, Wally Serote, Mahlengi Bhengu, Jeremy Cronin, Fasiha Hassan, Bheki Nkosi, Dr Billy Ramokgopa, Abba Omar and one member each from the ANCVL, ANCWL, ANCYL.
— Queenin Masuabi (@Queenin_M) March 28, 2022
“The NEC, the people and transformation has tasked the Renewal Commission to develop a vision for the movement for 2032, when it shall reach its 120-year milestone. This should form the foundation of the renewal action plan, for immediate implementation,” the 2022 discussion papers read.
“Arising from this, the suggestion for simplified booklets in all languages, which explains the crisis we face and what a renewed ANC should look like by the ANC Veterans’ League, should be taken forward.”
The party has also decided to take a strong anti-corruption stance leading into the national elective conference in December, and has mentioned a number of measures which have been taken to deal with those implicated in corrupt activities, including the controversial step-aside guidelines.
Casualties of the guidelines include suspended secretary-general Ace Magashule; former ANC chairperson of Parliament’s Home Affairs portfolio committee, Bongani Bongo; and former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede.
“Corrupt practices across government, and the perceptions of widespread corruption have become a serious blight, undermining transformation and the trust of the people.
“The Zondo Commission reports implicated ANC leaders and members, the step-aside guidelines have been adopted by the NEC, but we still have serious contestations on these issues.
“How do we draw a line on this matter, learning from other examples, so that we can turn the tide?” the policy documents read. DM
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