Ralph Mathekga

Radical policy decisions a result of ANC failures

2017-12-21 10:20
Newly elected ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa ((MUJAHID SAFODIEN / AFP)

Newly elected ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa ((MUJAHID SAFODIEN / AFP)

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When cornered and finding itself unable to explain its failure to implement its own policies, the African National Congress tends to become more and more radical.

This was indicated by the policy resolutions that the party delegates adopted at their national conference in Nasrec.

I had no illusions that the post-Zuma ANC will become more reasonable and circumspect when dealing with policy. The decision by the party to adopt the resolution to expropriate land without compensation and to implement free education are some of the policy positions that have stunned observers and the markets. 

Cyril Ramaphosa’s triumph at Nasrec was expected to bring clarity and reason when it comes to what policies the party adopt to remedy problems such as unemployment and inequality in our society. The message that was sent by branch delegations as reflected in the policy resolutions adopted is simple: the ANC does not need anyone’s help to destroy itself, or to destroy the economy and eradicate any remaining investor confidence in South Africa.

The policy resolutions adopted show that the champions of radical economic transformation have won the conference, while the moderates have won the Presidency. Now, Ramaphosa will have to implement those resolutions in the form of government.

This signals that tensions within the party will escalate deeper as members leave the conference. Ramaphosa should undertake a road show and forge a conversation with branch members regarding moderating some of the policy proposals that have been made.

There is a need also for Ramaphosa to go and gauge the pulse of the broader membership of the party. It would be easier for him to visit party branches outside the conference environment; an environment that did not allow for consensus. 

Because he has a poor basis within the party branches, pressure for him to implement those resolutions will mount. Therefore, if he is seen not implementing them his leadership will be destabilised, or even collapsed. The best he can do, is to plead for moderation among party members.

The significance of this is that policy decision processes will become more tense and contentious, delaying implementation. 

- Ralph Mathekga is a Fellow at the SARChI Chair: African Diplomacy and Foreign Policy at the University of Johannesburg and author of When Zuma Goes. 

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