The alliance is the political centre

2009-11-22 12:47

What is the current state of the tripartite


The alliance now is healthier than ever in the last 15 years.

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?

The issue of robustness of debates has always been a source of

strength for the alliance. Now people who are on the touchlines always describe

that as divisions. But it is where the strength of the alliance is. It is that

robustness, the ability to influence each other – not because we are nursing

each other – but because we express views and persuade each other. 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. It kills the question of an alliance of independent

partners. 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


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

engage and 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


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


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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