Battle lines drawn at ANC policy conference over economic crisis

2017-06-30 05:00
ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe briefs the media on the party's state of readiness for the policy conference (Mpho Raborife, News24)

ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe briefs the media on the party's state of readiness for the policy conference (Mpho Raborife, News24)

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ANC stalwarts explain 'boycott' of consultative conference

2017-06-29 16:31

ANC stalwarts and veterans, who are 'boycotting' the consultative conference ahead of the party's policy conference, want to hold the event at a later date. Watch for more. WATCH

Johannesburg - The battle lines have been drawn over the country's radical policy overhaul in terms of the present economic crisis, which includes high unemployment rates, recession, low investment and junk status.

Some 3 500 delegates are meeting for the ANC’s 5th policy conference which kicks off at Nasrec Expo centre, south of Johannesburg on Friday until Wednesday.

Warring factions in the ANC agree that radical economic transformation is necessary but are gearing for a battle over whether race should be used in defining who controls the economy and whether the Constitution needs to be amended to address the failed land redistribution programme. 

The conference is seen as a dress rehearsal to gauge who will win the presidential race at the December elective conference.

The heated debates will be sparked by whether the “enemy” is white monopoly capital or just monopoly capital and whether the Constitution should be changed to allow for expropriation of land without compensation.

Some supporting presidential hopeful Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa are arguing that white monopoly capital is being used as a ruse by supporters of his contender for the top post, NEC member Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.

“Why do comrades find it difficult to say there is white monopoly capital? It tells you that some of our comrades ... have been captured – they even forget they are still not in charge of the economy,” Umkonto We Sizwe president Kebby Maphatsoe told News24 ahead of the conference.

Last week Gauteng ANC leaders rubbished the concept of white monopoly capital.

“Monopoly capital remains the enemy of the national democratic revolution. In this regard the conference has made it clear that there is no such thing as white monopoly capital in our vocabulary," said Gauteng ANC chairperson Paul Mashatile.

Means of production

But Maphatsoe has hit back, accusing their detractors of defending white people and fictionalising the issue. He said white people still control the means of production in the country while black people own minority shares through Black Economic Empowerment deals that have given them no say in the direction of those companies.

He said the black ownership in big dominant companies must be increased to 51% to later grow to 60%.

“We want to speak to our comrades to say there is nothing wrong with them being in those businesses but they must not defend what is wrong, they must instead advise the white people and say things have to change but they are captured, defending whites and forgetting their own politics and tools of analysis.

“Our argument is that we will not drive white people to the sea, they must continue doing business but let’s share the cake and it must reflect the demographics of our country,” Maphatsoe said.

The Women’s League said in its version of radical economic transformation, 50% of all government tenders must go to women.

“The economy has been benefiting certain families, let’s look at the Guptas yes, the Ruperts, the Oppenheimers, all these other people benefiting including our own comrades, benefiting is unfair. We need to distribute equally, our people who voted ANC in power, after 23 years many of them are still suffering,” Women’s League secretary general Meokgo Matuba said.

But other provinces like Limpopo and Northern Cape are expected to argue that while economic transformation is an imperative, it should not be racially defined.

The Northern Cape said it rejects the “permutations of using radical social economic transformation as a scapegoat in dealing with allegations of state capture".

“We support looking at ownership of companies but capital does not have colour, in the context of South Africa it does benefit white people but we call it monopoly capital,” Limpopo Secretary Knox Seabe told News24.

Without compensation

On land, the party’s biggest province Kwa-Zulu Natal, and the Free State are supporting calls by MKMVA, the Women's League and Youth League that Section 25 of the Constitution must be changed so that land must be expropriated without compensation.

“We are unanimous in our conviction that land redistribution without compensation, constitutes the most national and progressive way towards restoring the dignity of the dispossessed poor masses of our people,” ANC KZN said following their provincial general council preparing for the national policy conference.

The Northern Cape and Western Cape were silent on expropriation with the former arguing that “the land redistribution programme must be fast-tracked as the racially skewed land ownership patterns poses a serious threat to social stability in the country”.

ANC NEC member Mathole Motshekga has also argued that it is the government that has failed to implement the Constitution that has led to failed targets on redistribution.

“Academics, lawyers, including retired judges, academics have had symposiums and discussions and they all show it was a failure of government to not implement the Constitution and not the Constitution failing the government,” Motshekga said.

While the policy conference does not have powers to adopt policies, Secretary General Gwede Mantashe said the crisis facing the economy could not wait until the December elective conference. 

Read more on:    anc  |  mkmva  |  anc policy  |  anc leadership race  |  ancpolicy17

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