What comes next for ANC, Zuma

2010-09-23 14:32

Durban - The African National Congress will conclude on Friday one of its most important political events in years where it tries to adjust its policies for managing Africa's biggest economy.

The following is a look at what comes next for the ANC and its leader President Jacob Zuma, who is struggling to repair a damaged alliance with traditional partners in organised labour and ease worries from investors that he may back some of their left-leaning policies.


* The first task for Zuma and the ANC will be to formally end a strike by about 1.3 million state workers over higher wages that has been put on hold to give rank and file time to consider the government's offer.

* Leaders of the country's biggest labour federation Cosatu understand the government cannot afford more than its offer of a 7.5% wage hike, about double inflation, and R800 a month for housing.

* Zuma criticised Cosatu for how the strike was conducted and, if angered by their treatment at the ANC's national general council, it may retaliate by having its workers return to picket lines and renew their demands for an 8.6% wage increase and R1 000 for housing.

* Likely outcome is that Cosatu will not retaliate to the criticism, which may be seen as justified after Zuma was the target of verbal barbs during the labour impasse, and have its workers sign off on the deal.


* The government has assured investors during the meeting it will not be nationalising the mines in the world's largest producer of platinum and fourth largest of gold.

* But it cannot ignore growing calls from within the ruling party and its alliance partners in labour to open a debate on nationalisation of some sectors.

* Advocates for nationalisation argue resources in the mineral rich country are limited and strategic partnerships between the government and business will raise money that could be used for infrastructure and job creation.

* Even though Zuma and his backers tried to end the push, the calls for nationalisation will not go away any time soon.


* The ruling party tried to dispel reports its big wigs are discussing replacing Zuma when the ANC elects new leaders in 2012 while promising to punish those who openly discuss it.

* But Zuma's future will not be on any firmer footing after the event, with succession a hot topic of the meeting, even if the talks were not made public.

* Senior members are concerned that Zuma's multiple marriages, children out of wedlock, lack of direction on economic policies and what appears to be growing levels of cronyism in his government are tarnishing the image of Africa's oldest political party.

* It appears Zuma may serve out his term as South Africa's president, which expires in 2014, but there are no guarantees of a second term.

Rand policy

* Business and labour, who seldom agree, are both calling for state to weaken the rand, whose strength is making imports more expensive and exports less competitive.

* It will be difficult for the country to take any decision on tweaking the currency other than rejecting the calls of Cosatu for a drastic devaluation.

Media appeals tribunal

* The ruling party says it wants to open a debate on the creation of a media appeals tribunal but critics say it is a plan to silence the press who expose corruption in government.

* The media tribunal looks like it may be one of the few measures proposed at the NGC that is soon implemented.

* But investors are more worried about a separate bill parliament is considering that is designed to protect state secrets. If passed, the bill would restrict media access to information concerning regulators and state-owned enterprises.

* Critics say that could cut investors off from information affecting equity, treasury and foreign exchange markets.

* MPs appear likely to curtail the broad definitions of state secrets that can be kept away from the media in the face of criticism, but to what extent is uncertain.