BEN Turok, the ANC’s irrepressible head of political education in Parliament, arrived clutching the labels of two tomato cans. With him was Professor Bonke Dumisa, former CEO of the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry, who walked in ponderously. The Pietermaritzburg City Hall, the setting for the KZN ANC’s open forum on economic transformation, was packed on Wednesday night and hands flew up in every direction when it came to question time. This was exhilarating stuff and perhaps a foretaste of the kind of engagement that is going to take place in the economic transformation forum at the party’s national conference in Mangaung in December. If Wednesday night’s discussion was anything to go by, the ANC’s leadership battle could be a sideshow to the more contested terrain of economic transformation. “Should we allow cheap imports or create jobs?” he asked. He advocated some form of protectionism, agreeing with Dumisa that extensive protectionism, like that under apartheid, is harmful. However, he said there are creative ways in which this can be done, for example, allowing young businesses to incubate for a while before setting them free.