ANC delegates want Eskom moved to Department of Mineral Resources and Energy

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  • Delegates want Eskom housed in the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy
  • Ramaphosa's load shedding plan was endorsed, but delegates want Eskom "strengthened".
  • Delegates to the ANC policy conference revive 2017 resolutions on land, SA Reserve Bank and a state bank

Delegates to the ANC's national policy conference have mooted that Eskom and other state-owned companies should be rehoused in their line departments, rather than under the umbrella of the Department of Public Enterprises.

If adopted at the ANC's national conference in December, Eskom would be moved to the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy. 

President Cyril Ramaphosa's plan to end load shedding announced earlier this week was endorsed at the conference. However, delegates also expressed concern that the state should not abandon its responsibility to play a developmental role and be the provider of public goods such as electricity and that a commitment must be made to strengthen Eskom.

The delegates also revived several radical economic policy proposals, calling on government to revisit measures to strengthen the expropriation of land without compensation, review the mandate of the SA Reserve Bank and fast-track the establishment of a state-owned bank.

READ | ANC delegates are pushing for Eskom, other SOEs to go back to line departments, says party economic head

A broader mandate for the SA Reserve Bank than its core function of targeting inflation has been perennially discussed at ANC conferences, but was not expected to be raised as a major issue this time.

At its last national conference in 2017, the ANC resolved to end private shareholding in the bank, a decision the executive has not implemented. 

The chairperson of the ANC's economic transformation committee (ETC) Mmamaloko Kubayi briefed the media on the conference's deliberations. However, discussions had not yet been fully concluded. The policy conference is not a decision-making forum and discusses policy proposals that will be put to the elective conference in December. 

Kubayi said the proposal on the Reserve Bank was not to "tamper with the mandate in the Constitution" but to do research to establish whether the bank could play a broader role over and above inflation targeting.

SA's central bank is unusual in that it is partly privately owned, which arose from historical circumstances.

Monetary policy is however insulated from shareholder influence. Kubayi said the private shareholding had led ANC members to question whether the Reserve Bank was doing everything it could to assist economic growth.

She said the ETC had explained to delegates that buying out the private shareholders was not a simple matter, as it depended on the price at which they would sell.

"The conversation around the bank is driven by the fact that people feel there is more the Reserve Bank should be able to do and because we are not seeing this it should be nationalised. Is there space and what are the models? Can we investigate other ways to do it? Not overall a blanket mandate, but to say we can intervene in strategic sectors," she said. 

Wits economist and senior member of the ANC's ETC Kenneth Creamer said delegates to the conference had agreed that while nationalisation of the bank was important, "it was not seen to be the number one priority."

A second resolution from 2017 not implemented was to amend the Constitution to make explicit the state's right to expropriate land without compensation. Although this failed to muster sufficient two-thirds support in Parliament, Kubayi said delegates wanted the ANC to reach out to other parties and groups again to get the resolution passed.

Kubayi said delegates had agreed that a third 2017 resolution on the creation of a state bank should be expedited.

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