Allies outgun Vavi at NEC

2011-01-15 21:22

The ANC national executive committee lekgotla has floored Cosatu boss Zwelinzima Vavi in the fierce battle over economic policy.
On Friday during discussions on job creation and the ANC’s new macroeconomic framework called the New Growth Path (NGP), Vavi is understood to have argued that the NGP was a rehash of former president Thabo Mbeki’s conservative Growth Employment and Redistribution (Gear) policy.

Vavi’s view was backed by ­National Union of Metal ­Workers of SA boss Irvin Jim and Cosatu economist Chris Malikane.

But ANC economics head Max Sisulu, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, Economic ­Development Minister Ebrahim Patel and ANC national executive committee economic subcommittee member Enoch Godongwana shot down Vavi’s views, saying the NGP was different from Gear.

Cosatu was also outgunned as the SACP – which was represented by its deputy general secretary, Jeremy Cronin, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies, its youth leader Buti Manamela, and former youth leader David Masondo – came out in support of the ANC, arguing that the NGP represented a “paradigm shift” from Gear.

A source at the lekgotla said Vavi had argued that:
» The main problem with the monetary policy proposed in the NGP framework was that it placed emphasis only on inflation targeting;

» It did not give due attention to factors such as the country’s unemployment rate of about 26%; and

» The “over-valued” currency could hurt job creation.

A further setback for Cosatu was that the ANC leadership went ahead and endorsed the New Growth Path on Wednesday despite the fact that its ­allies in Cosatu had expressed reservations about it.

ANC ­national spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said the ANC national executive committee had earlier adopted the economic blueprint as the “anchor” for how its government would create the jobs it promised to ­deliver this year.

There was no agreement on the proposal to freeze wages to contain inflation. Discussions on sticking points are expected to take place at the National Economic Development and Labour Council and at the tripartite alliance summit next month.

Yesterday, Godongwana denied the debate had resulted in a defeat for Cosatu. “It’s not like there is blood on the floor. It is not an outright rejection. There is still an environment for engagement,” he said. He said the ANC would still consult widely as the policy framework was “not cast in stone”.

Vavi said Cosatu’s presentation had been well received.

“Some of our suggestions will be incorporated (into the New Growth Path). We are quite encouraged,” he said. He denied that the labour federation was outgunned by the ruling party.

“There was no competition, just comrades and friends discussing issues,” he said.

Jim said there was a commitment from the government and the ANC to discuss their points of disagreement. They supported the NGP on issues such as the need for government departments to procure their needs ­locally. “I think the lekgotla was good because all of us were honest about issues and there’s consensus that we must ­engage.”

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