The ANC declared 2017 as the year of Oliver Tambo; unity in action. Ironically, the party is deeply divided evidently embroiled in court cases, where factions are disputing outcomes of conferences. The court cases pose devastating consequences for the National Elective Conference due to begin this weekend and consequently towards the 2019 national elections. The ruling party’s failure to embark on critical political and ideological introspection after it lost three metropolitan municipalities in the 2016 local government elections may have lasting consequences for the party going forward. Towards the its National Elective Conference, the party has punted at what is vaguely known as “Radical Economic Transformation”.
Presidential hopeful, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has also used the slogan “Radical Transformation” slogan towards the elective congress. The slogan can be traced to the 1940s, in which the ANC articulated the Plan of Action through the emergence of radical and militant youth within the ANC. The generation of Robert Sobukwe, Nelson Mandela, OR Tambo subsequently after the formation of the ANC Youth League drafted the Plan of Action demanding scraping of the 1913 Native Land Act, that the land belongs to the black South Africans, freedom to vote, a minimum wage amongst other things.
Subsequent to the 1949 Plan of Action and the adoption of the Freedom Charter at the Congress of the people in 1955 Kliptown, the ANC adopted the document in its conference in Bloemfontein, a clearly socialist ideological approach. This resulted in the first split of the ANC whereby the pro-Africanist members of the ANC viewed the ANC as shifting away from pro-black radical politics to non-racial politics in which they believed that black and white, oppressed and oppressor could not have a reciprocal relations.
Despite the Freedom Charter’s assertion on the race and nationalisation, the Charter carries radicalism and transformative primacy to our economic system through its demand for the country’s strategic sectors such as mines, banks and monopoly industries be shared equally amongst its citizens.
The promise of radical economic transformation is not new, it predates presidential hopeful Dlamini-Zuma as far back as 1960’s at the ANC Morogoro conference which declared the party:
“To allow the existing economic forces to retain their interests intact is to feed the root of racial supremacy and does not represent even the shadow of liberation. Our drive towards national emancipation…The correction of…centuries-old the economic injustice lies at the very core of our aspiration”
Throughout Radical Economic Transformation has remained little more than a rhetorical discourse which has found new energy towards the elective conference vaguely used by Presidential hopeful Dlamini-Zuma apart from using concepts such as white monopoly capital and attack on wealthy Rupert and Oppenheimer families.
What is most troubling with ANC rhetoric since it took political power 1994 is its deliberate neo-liberal economic policies which seeks redistribution through growth?
It is troubling that the ANC post-1994 resonates with the neo-liberal economic policies. Let alone the Redistribution Development Program (RDP) debate that was radical left policy or Keynesian-left policy because of its openness to the nationalisation of mines and its promise to deal with poverty. However, the RDP has neo-liberal policy element as shown by:
“Open up South Africa’s economy through reduction of tariffs and envisages export-oriented growth. There is an emphasis on creating a competitive industry in light of the above, where industries like mining are competitive abroad as South African firms, or South Africa leads in terms of producing certain products at a cheap price in a global economy.”
Not forgetting the punishment of poor South Africans by Thabo Mbeki’s administration through GEAR. The introduction of macro-economic GEAR which carried much of promised to overturn South Africa’s economy and pose radical socio-economic transformation. But at the end ushered us with the increasing of unemployment, privatisation of water and electricity including the drastically change of South African labour relation in which workers of Universities and private companies started to be outsourced and subcontracted.
The reality is that there is nothing new about Dlamini Zuma’s camp with their Radical Economic Transformation slogan they will offer to our people. Let’s be frank, the ANC lack sophistication and ideological posture that will enable it to challenge South Africa’s untransformed economy. The Radical Economic Transformation is nothing rather than a desire to buying black poor people’s votes. Given South Africa’s economic and social challenges such as:
- High unemployment
- Major outflow of capital
- Deindustrialisation, with benefits to financial sector and closing of manufacturing sector
- Fiscal deregulation has led to internationalization
- Continuation of the dominance of the Mineral Energy Complex
Given those challenges, Dlamini Zuma supposed to have been focusing on those issues I have mentioned earlier, but I have not heard anyone from her camp articulating how they are going to resolve those economic issues except blaming our untransformed economic system to White Monopoly Capital.
It is worth reminding that the ANC, at the National General Council in June 2011 in Durban, re-affirmed that the government should take control of economic strategic sectors such as the mining industry. Indirectly, the ANC rejected the nationalisation since Pallo Jordan, through the process of the State Involvement in the Mineral Industry (SIMS), contended that nationalisation of mines would cost South Africa’s economy too much. Noting as well that the Chamber of Mines, SIMS, and the Free Market Foundation campaigned strongly campaigned against the nationalisation of mines with the help of ANC top leadership such as Jeff Radebe.
Looking ahead to this 54th elective conference the ANC delegates must reject the rhetoric calling for radical economic transformation. Putting this in other words, 38 percent of the South African population lives underdeveloped rural areas governed by traditional authorities and municipalities. The Freedom Charter is clear on the issue of governance as it argued that “People shall govern” not through chiefs and kings but by the democratically elected government. There is a huge silence in Dlamini Zuma’s campaign in term of this radical economic transformation if it will abolish the tribal traditional authority. Because this system of traditional rules it is inhabitant patriarchy and constraint democracy since the power is only vested in a chief as a law-maker, executive and judge.
In reality is that Dlamini-Zuma is having been part of new government regime since 1994 with her government and political credentials there is nothing new they will invent. As she has been complicit in the post-1994 government that do not engage in production, nor in the invention, nor building, nor labour, their innermost predisposition it is not to change the condition of black people or eradicate poverty, and inequality but it is to enrich their families and friends such as president Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzani Zuma.
So she cannot be taken seriously with her call for radical economic transformation. The ANC delegates in the congress they must bear in mind that they carrying a power of determining who will be the next ANC president and possibly South Africa’s president. Surely, we do not want to have a president of our country such as Jacob Zuma who will preside over corruption, enriching him family and friends and weakening of our state institutions merely to protect himself.
The ANC prior to its 54th National elective congress needs to shift from a neo-liberal policy framework to prioritising elevate poverty, inequality and unemployment. This must include the participation of a majority of black South Africans, particularly black women in the mainstream economy, the creation of massive employment and abolish tribal traditional authorities. Our government must diversify from depending on Energy Mineral Complex or Mineral energy-finance complex and revitalise the local economy by intensifying the township economy through the establishment of the consumer co-operatives to boost the small businesses and incorporating of stokvels and burial societies into our economy.
The delegates must argue for intensifying the establishment of National Health Insurance, take ownership of the land from corporates sector such as Banks and Mining companies’ hands. They must argue for implementation of a state bank to facilitate government payments and restructure Black Economic Empowerment to build the business from the ground up instead of buying white businesses or relying on state tenders. They must increase the informalisation of the economy with an assistance of redirection state financial institutions funds such as Public Investment Corporation in helping to building a sustainable informal businesses and cut at the tax base like Brazil.