Media make Zuma’s openness a weakness — Mantashe

2008-12-11 00:00

The media make ANC president Jacob Zuma’s strength his weakness. His strength is that he listens. He is open to hearing what people have to say. If people want to talk about the death penalty, he will listen, but if there is a referendum on the issue he will lead the ANC against it, as this remains the ANC policy. This explanation was offered by ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe to a question on why Zuma at times sends out contradictory messages.

Mantashe, who was addressing a meeting of editors in Durban, said the fact that Zuma allows people to engage with him on issues is a strength not a weakness. “I think we will have a better president in Zuma, who is listening. He will be a worse president if he pushes ANC wisdom and rolls down policies like boulders from the top of a hill,” he said.

According to the secretary-general, this openness translates into requesting submissions for the party’s manifesto.

Mantashe said the ANC has received more than 2 000 submissions from the public and organisations. The process is about to be completed, and when the manifesto is launched on January 10 in East London, it will include the public submissions.

Asked about differing statements made by the ANC and alliance partners on economic issues, Mantashe said there are no contradictions. The ANC stands by the policies adopted at Polokwane, however, he added that it is a matter of continuity and change.

“The party has a responsibility to build on what is working right, but a responsibility to change what is not working.

He reiterated the key policy areas that the ANC will be focussing on, which include:

• Health and education: there will be an emphasis on improving the quality of service and ensuring the implementation of policies. Outcomes-based-education will stay, but with improvements to implemented

• the creation of decent work as opposed to job creation; where you can be underemployed and still a burden to your family, who have to give you bus fare to get to your job

• the development of an industrial policy.

So far South Africa has concentrated on developing its macro-economic policy and not its industrial policy, Mantashe explained.

• food production and security. Linked to this is the development of rural areas and Mantashe said that the ANC is proposing a rural ministry. In this way, people who get land in the redistribution programme can be given the technical support.

Mantashe said the financial implications as well as the current economic climate were factored in during the discussions.

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