Disagreement is not disunity

2009-11-21 14:57

Last week the tripartite alliance held a summit on a wide range of issues. Moffet Mofokeng and Sabelo Ndlangisa spoke to ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe on resolutions taken.

What is the current state of the alliance?

The alliance now is healthier than ever. Mutual respect is back among alliance partners. The right of those parties to take their decisions is respected. The leadership of the ANC as the leader of the alliance is reaffirmed and, therefore, that’s the best shape the alliance has been in for a long time. We always take decisions in the alliance by consensus because it is not a constitutional structure.There have been public disagreements over policy and observers interpret this as a sign of tension. Do you agree?

Robustness of debate has always been a source of strength for the alliance.

People who are on the touchlines always describe that as divisions. But it is where the strength of the alliance is.

To me, if you can take that away from the alliance, the alliance will be weaker because it will be an alliance managed with pretence. We want that robust debate and discussion among alliance partners to continue. Once we reach agreements they must be respected.There seems to be confusion over whether the ANC or the alliance is the centre of power. Can you please clarify.

The ANC is the strategic political centre. The debate about the alliance being the strategic centre is quite a healthy ­debate for me. The interpretation of this is different depending on where one stands in the alliance. Please clarify.

In some provinces allies think it means there is no ANC. The ANC cannot meet and take decisions. We must all meet under one roof and take decisions as allies.

In some provinces there is an experience where alliance partners meet, caucus together and come to an alliance meeting as a bloc against the ANC.

In some provinces you have an experience where, because of the tensions, we walk away from each other. That is what happens when you throw concepts without unpacking them. The challenge that we are having, actually, is to unpack what kind of a political centre is the alliance, how distinct is that political centre from the ANC. The preoccupation is not on the phraseology and the terminology (but) should be what it means in real terms. How far is that debate?

We have agreed that debate will be on in the first quarter of 2010. We’ll have an alliance meeting that is more political, where we don’t go into programmatic ­areas. We will focus on refining the political framework that guides the alliance.

How has the alliance summit resolved the disagreement on the National Planning Commission, labour brokers and unions being allowed in the military?

When you configure your cabinet and appoint a minister in the presidency responsible for the National Planning Commission you don’t after six months change and say we don’t like the person you put there and therefore we will change the model. Any person who wants to debate about that says we must have a cabinet reshuffle. That’s how serious it is. If we change that decision we will become a laughing stock in the world as a movement that does not know what it is doing.Labour brokers?

Labour broking is processed in parliament and Nedlac. We must allow that process to take its course. The question on the military, there’s a commission in the military today.What about the issue of expanding the mandate of the Reserve Bank?

What we said is that we will put together a task team that will look into expanding the mandate so that that mandate and, basically the whole monetary policy, talks to the developmental objectives of the country. People want to know whether we are talking about dumping inflation targeting. To me it’s not the term that counts. Whether we call it inflation targeting or inflation kicking, nobody wants runaway inflation because it affects the poorest section of society. What is the issue? Do we fight to the death about a concept?

You disagree with Eskom’s proposed 45% multi-year tariff hike. Do you have any concrete alternatives?

It’s not the alliance versus Eskom. The alliance says a 45% increase in electricity tariffs is not good for the economy.

We say to them go and look at various options that will pull that tariff down to a reasonable level.We increasingly see lobby groups getting involved in the politics of parastatals and the ANC gets drawn one way or the other. Is this healthy for our politics?

The ANC is not a lobby group. That’s why you will not see it engaging in street fights when those things happen.

Any individual member of the ANC who gets drawn into those things goes there as an individual.

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