Cosatu wants economic reform

2012-12-19 16:32
(Picture: Sapa)

(Picture: Sapa)

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Bloemfontein - The ANC's alliance partner Cosatu is looking to the party's 53rd national conference for economic reform.

"We want content to the second phase of transition. Cosatu calls it a Lula moment," Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said on the sidelines of the ANC's national conference in Mangaung.

"We'll judge the success of the conference, not on the leadership elections, but on the basis of whether there is content to what everybody has been saying."

The "Lula moment" referred to a turnaround in Brazilian politics engineered by the country's former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva during his second term.

The ANC's second phase of transition formed part of its key policy paper on strategy and tactics.

It noted that the ANC had to enter a second phase of democracy. The first transition was in the past 18-years, during which the focus was political emancipation.

The second phase had to focus on social and economic transformation in the next 30 to 50 years.

Vavi said the ANC's 53rd national conference had to address the triple challenge of poverty, inequality and unemployment.

Land reform

Cosatu's second largest affiliate, the National Union of Metalworkers (NUM), wanted a "Freedom Charter moment".

This included people owning the mineral wealth and land in the country.

Vavi said the ANC could not just focus on creating an environment for business to invest. The state was a critical player in the economy and had to be a key player.

"So when you talk about land reform you want to see a stronger role from the state. When we talk about industrial policy... we want to see a stronger role of the state," he said.

"Particular[ly] a state that is going to intervene and make sure that intervention is in the interest of the ordinary people."

Whether it was agriculture, land reform or food security the state had to take a central role.

Cosatu did not believe in wholesale nationalisation of mines, but felt the state needed to play more of a strategic role.

This was one of the recommendations proposed at the ANC's national policy conference earlier this year.

"It [the state] must carefully consider where it wants to involve itself," said Vavi.

"We must not develop state capitalism. We know the disastrous consequences of that, but we want an active state."

Government’s role

Government needed to have a serious role in the mining industry, which included strategic nationalisation of particular minerals.

This could help with other objectives such as industrialisation, he said.

Vavi said land redistribution in South Africa was very slow and the land that had been distributed was not being utilised.

"Seventy percent [of land] is lying idle, not being used. This is a problem."

What was needed was a government which intervened, but also one that would be active in ensuring aspirant farmers were trained to use the land.

Land could not just be about "assisting colour" but also had to be about food security.

"[What] everybody seems to be ignoring is that the Constitutional Court did say that the state can proclaim land for the purposes of redressing the past and the purposes of development, and can set the price there-after," he said.

"That's what we want, that's what we need in South Africa."

Read more on:    num  |  anc  |  cosatu  |  luiz inacio lula da silva  |  zwelinzima vavi  |  bloemfontein  |  mangaung 2012  |  politics

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