How ANC plans to take SA from capitalist to state-managed economy

Cape Town – South Africa needs to move away from a purely capitalist state to a state-managed developmental economy, the ANC said at a media conference on Monday. 

In preparation for its 54th National Conference in December 2017, the ruling party is mooting radical economic transformation through among other things changing the banking environment to become less “concentrated and racialised” and more in the interest of the vast majority of the country. 

READ: Zuma: SA needs radical economic transformation

The ANC said it intends on using the constitution, legislation and regulation, licensing, broad-based black economic empowerment (BBBEE), the national budget, state-owned enterprises and development finance institutions to change the ownership and control of the economy “in favour of all South Africans, especially the poor, the majority of whom are African and female”. 

The ruling party has recently taken a stronger stance against the fact that the economy remains in the hands of a small white minority. At the party’s birthday celebrations on January 8 at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto, President Jacob Zuma made a plea for accelerated economic transformation. 

He made similar remarks at a recent gathering of the ANC’s National Executive Committee – utterances perceived by some analysts as an attempt to rescue his legacy and to respond to pressures from opposition parties such as the Economic Freedom Fighters. 

In its statement following the lekgotla, the ANC named a number of initiatives aimed at changing the course of South Africa’s economy. 

Banking sector 

The ruling party called on government to develop and implement a programme for the transformation and de-racialisation of the financial sector. 

READ: SA banks becoming battle ground in Zuma war - analysts 

Similar utterances were made by Yunis Carrim, chairperson of Parliament’s Standing Committee on Finance, who recently scheduled March 14 for public hearings during which several stakeholders will be allowed to give input on how South Africa’s financial sector needs to change to become more representative. 

At the time, Carrim cautioned that banks need to transform, otherwise "it will be done for them". 

In line with this, the ANC said in its post-lekgotla statement that the process to license the Post Bank needs to be fast-tracked so that the institution can become the “principal distributor of social grants”. 

The payment of social grants has been mired in controversy after the Constitutional Court in 2014 had found that the current distributor, Cash Paymaster Services, was invalid. The South Africa Social Security Agency is supposed to take over the contract at the end of March. 

READ: SA’s biggest banks want in on Sassa distribution

Mining sector

The ANC further said it “directs” government to consolidate government-owned mineral holdings and to make haste with the implementation of the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Amendment Bill, which was passed by the National Assembly late last year. 

The bill has been sent to Zuma for ratification. 

READ: Zwane: redrafted mining bill sure to pass Constitutional muster this time

In addition, the ANC wants government to utilise the mining licence regime and the Mining Charter to facilitate BBEEE, promote local procurement and the development of black industrialists. 

The Mining Charter is another subject of controversy, as government is legally challenged by the Chamber of Mines over the black ownership requirement, which states that mining companies need to keep black ownership at 26% even if empowerment partners sell their stake. 

Wealth tax

The ANC also calls for urgency in the implementation of a wealth tax to enable better investment in infrastructure and skills development. 

READ: Zuma's new tax laws hammer wealthy 

A heavier tax burden for affluent South Africans is in store with new legislation that will penalise individuals who use trusts for their assets and employees who earn extra income through tax-free share schemes.

Not a novel notion

The notion of a "state-managed developmentalist” economy, mentioned in the ANC’s post-lekgotla statement, is by no means a novel idea. 

Former president Thabo Mbeki mentioned it in 2001, and the ANC adopted it as central to its policy at the party’s 2007 elective conference in Polokwane. 

At the time Jeremy Cronin, in his capacity as SACP member, explained that a developmental state is "an active state with the capacity to intervene in the economy to coordinate and drive transformation". 

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