The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank Covid-19 coronavirus facility is probably the cheapest that Treasury could get, the ANC national executive committee (NEC) meeting heard at the weekend.
In the absence of Finance Minister Tito Mboweni, his deputy David Masondo took the ANC’s highest decision-making body into its confidence on the Treasury’s ideas to raise the necessary funds to fight the pandemic.
Treasury’s presentation was warmly accepted but with qualifications, including that the sovereignty of South Africa would be safeguarded.
NEC members warned that the debt should be accepted under favourable conditions so that it did not become a burden on the fiscus.
Those who attended the meeting said Treasury warned that other funding sources were drying up and had become more expensive, so the IMF was probably the best bet.
The eight- to nine-hours-long virtual meeting of the ANC top brass, the first during the national lockdown period, was described as “relaxed, less controversial and marked by maximum unity”, said those who attended.
“You can see in the decisions taken that there is less ambiguity and we are clear on a number of key decisions, including the way forward with the IMF funding and SAA,” said an NEC member.
During Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan’s presentation on SAA, the NEC emphasised that the planned new airline should remain a flag carrier like SAA.
Government’s stake in the new airline, which was intended include a private equity partner, had not been decided.
City Press heard that in his political report at the start of the meeting, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the Covid-19 outbreak had created an unprecedented and uncharted terrain for the government.
Ramaphosa warned that, under the circumstances, mistakes would be made and some decisions withdrawn as had happened with the reversal of cigarette sales.
He urged the government to “think out of the box and do everything it takes to fight Covid-19 and its economic consequences”, said a member of the NEC.
Despite being absent, Mboweni came under flak from top ANC leaders for his social media comments on Twitter.
The minister was accused of continually distancing himself from collective decisions.
The NEC had resolved that the government establish an interdisciplinary team on hunger and food security to ensure that food was sourced and was able to reach the most vulnerable.
The team would have to work with relevant stakeholders , such as the social development department, to ensure that the plan was implemented accordingly.
The party said that the establishment of a basic income grant was being considered to help the poor.
“We agreed with the proposal from the Alliance [with the SA Communist Party and union federation Cosatu] that, given the depth and width of poverty and unemployment, we once again and with urgency explore the feasibility of introducing a minimum basic income grant to provide for the basic dignity of all citizens as required in the Constitution,” said ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule.
Gender violence had taken centre stage in the lockdown as numbers continued to rise, with families having to stay home.
The ANC had decided to reignite the implementation of the national strategy against gender-based violence.
On the economic front, the party felt it would be important to revive the country’s manufacturing sector and empower small businesses, which were taking strain.
“We have urged the government to add to its procurement for the various pillars of the Covid-19 intervention, to drive localisation and develop local manufacturing.”
The ANC economic transformation committee had been given the task of urgently developing a draft plan which would include a post-Covid-19 economic reconstruction, growth and transformation plan that would place at it core localisation and reindustrialisation, transformation, investment in the second economy, the green economy, job creation and integration into the African continent.
These ideas would be discussed at alater stage.
The party stated that it supported the inclusion of broad-based black economic empowerment in the criteria for the Tourism Relief Fund and other interventions, in the interests of advancing an inclusive economy.
The health sector was discussed, including laying the foundations for the implementation of the National Health Insurance.
“[This will be done] by channelling expenditure towards adding capacities to existing and newly built healthcare facilities, rather than only on temporary field hospitals for coronavirus,” Magashule said.
The sector also called for protection of frontline health workers and urged the timely provision and delivery of personal protective equipment to health institutions across the country.
Political journalist | City Press
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