Correction or corporatism? – Ferial Haffajee

President Jacob Zuma’s comments on dogs and the rising fortunes of businesses that give liberally to the governing party notwithstanding, the ANC is now a better party than the one that governed before Mangaung.

It has emerged strengthened by the conference and, with a second term comfortably under his belt, President Zuma is more resolute than before.

But with a strike wave across mining, agriculture and in the building industry fracturing the landscape, it is what the party does now with its Mangaung dividend that counts.

The ouster of a corrupt and destructive ANC Youth League leadership was not great for the legacy of a formerly fine organisation, but it has set straight an economic path for our country.

For too many years the country suffered as the president egg-danced over the competing economic directions of his different constituencies.

Now we have it straight: no nationalisation, a mixed economy, a superstate and possibly higher taxes on

super profits.

There is no chance of super profits in this global economy, so heaven knows why the miners are so skittish when they should be confident in the wake of Mangaung.

The appointment of Cyril Ramaphosa as deputy president gave the ANC a fillip.

Faced with a crisis when Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe staged a principled challenge for the party’s leadership, it pulled a lovely rabbit from the hat.

You could almost see the party hitching its collar and saying: “Look what we’ve got”.

Ramaphosa accepted the nomination and won by a landslide. He is gloss and credibility for the party, and he helped bring the business sector back into the national fold of citizenship – from the confused and marginal space it has occupied for the past five years.

Now, my colleague worries this heralds the coming of ANC Inc.

I think not. The nature of the economy and the ability of the state means the governing party requires a strong private sector.

Government thinks it can do it all, but it can’t and the citizens show how every year: this week, an SA Institute of Race Relations survey showed how ordinary South Africans have yanked their children from public to private schools.

The same thing is happening in healthcare – when you can, you desert the public for the private sector.

And if you look at the sellout pace of decoders, it shows viewers do the same as soon as they have options outside of the SABC.

Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba tries his best, but efforts to reshape SAA with a strong state

hand are falling apart, as the national airline entered crisis mode this week when acting chief executive Vuyisile Kona clashed with his new board after spending about two days in office.

South Africa needs a capable state, but it can’t go it alone without a private sector.

A governing party that acknowledges this will do better.

This is the message of the national development plan that was placed at the centre of the party’s policy platform, another post-Mangaung plus.

The message has not seeped in and we can expect a period of it feeling like 2012.

Mining Minister Susan Shabangu this week shouted at Amplats chief executive Chris Griffiths for not consulting on his plans to put four shafts out of operation because of a tumbling platinum price.

Neither is with the programme.

Griffiths did not read the mood of compromise, while Shabangu forgets her department has failed miserably to hold industry to its licensing promises.

South Africans like to live as if we are on the set of a film version of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart.

But we are not and the self-correcting governing party conference at Mangaung took us back from the edge.

If only leaders could, now, walk further along the path of hope.

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