National plan the new Gear?

2013-03-24 10:01

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Zuma lashes out at detractors in ‘us vs them’ rhetoric.

President Jacob Zuma has come out in defence of the National Development Plan (NDP) after it was slammed by ANC alliance partner Cosatu in a draft document.

Deviating from his prepared keynote speech at the KwaZulu-Natal ANC’s provincial general council, Zuma said that while individuals might have reservations about the NDP, “it is important to respect the ANC delegates at Mangaung”.

The growing union push-back against the NDP mirrors an almost decade-long battle Cosatu staged against the Growth, Employment and Redistribution (Gear) strategy, the country’s previous economic policy.

“You cannot say we were sleeping when we adopted this?.?.?.?Delegates applied their minds,” Zuma said.

“It is important how you choose your words, particularly if you are part of us. The overarching plan will serve as a blueprint for development over the next 17 years until 2030.

“The plan received overwhelming support in Mangaung and was duly adopted by consensus. As we said before, having a long-term planning blueprint creates certainty about where we are going and how we intend to go there.

“All our efforts must now be channelled towards the implementation of the plan.”

He spoke after Cosatu re-released a scathing draft discussion document that accuses the ANC of steamroller tactics instead of real policy debate at its Mangaung conference.

The union federation claims Mangaung was used merely as a platform to support the plan.

The report contains the same criticism of Mangaung made by metal worker union Numsa’s general secretary, Irvin Jim, earlier this month, for which he has been mercilessly rebuked by senior ANC leaders who have come out in force to defend the democratic credentials of the NDP.

Cosatu’s document raises the stakes in a mounting public spat that’s turning endorsement of the NDP into a sign of political loyalty within the divided federation.

The document also rips into the plan itself, particularly its reliance on massive increases in low-wage service jobs to reduce unemployment by 2030.

Cosatu has been at pains to stress that the report, which is a month old and was first tabled at its February central executive committee (CEC) meeting, is not its official position “until adopted by the structures of the federation”.

This means a final position will likely be formulated at the Cosatu’s next CEC meeting, which is scheduled for May.

On Thursday, which was a public holiday, the draft document was uploaded on to the Cosatu website in what appeared to be a show of solidarity with Numsa’s Jim.

The document pulls no punches when talking about the presentation of the NDP at Mangaung.

It asserts that the plan was endorsed at Mangaung, even though “a number of very senior comrades in the ANC and government had not read the plan in detail”.

ANC economic policy chief Enoch Godongwana defended the NDP, saying it was a long-term vision that reflected the submissions of various groupings in society.

“It can’t reflect (the objectives of) one group because of its nature and evolution,” said Godongwana.

“All of us want to wipe out unemployment tomorrow.

“There is a difference between our wishes and what is possible.

The NDP takes the reality of what is possible into account,” he said.

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