ANC to review NDP at policy conference

Erin Bates

Johannesburg - The ANC plans to review the successes and challenges of the National Development Plan (NDP) at its upcoming policy conference which set to be dominated by talks on broadening economic inclusion and ending the "rhetoric" on land redistribution.

On Tuesday party secretary general Gwede Mantashe emphasised that the economy and politics cannot be separated.

"If there is no performance on the economy, parties get kicked out of power, not because their policies are wrong but because their policies do not perform... they get kicked out," Mantashe said.

He said the review on the NDP will also focus on the crisis facing tertiary institutions. The past two years have seen violent protests by students demanding free education. 

"We told the team working on the NDP assessment that don't give us a technical report on NDP. We said give us a political report on what progress has been made" on the economy, education and what the challenges are, Mantashe said.

He said the party had exceeded expectations by increasing access to institutions of higher learning and it needed to know what sparked the "agitation".

High unemployment

The NDP was endorsed at the party's 2012 Mangaung conference but alliance partners the SACP and Cosatu have continuously criticised the economic blue print, arguing it has not translated into the "radical economic transformation" the party promised.

However, the country has failed to grow the economy at the 5% required by the NDP to create 11 million jobs by 2030. Instead unemployment is at an all-time high.

Party deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte said broadening the economic base will be central to the discussions, especially opening up opportunities for small and medium enterprises.

She said the party had asked the minister of small business development to create a practical programme to incentivise black industrialists and small, medium and micro-sized enterprises.

The party has been holding workshops to finalise policy documents expected to be released to party structures ahead of the June policy conference to be held in Gauteng.

Duarte said the ANC is not doing away with the NDP.

"We live currently in a mixed economy that has benefited the top 5% of people in our country, including some [through] our own policies, like broad-based economic empowerment."

'Lunatics agitating' on land issue

"How do we spread the economic base beyond a demographic minority in our country? We are one of few countries in the world where the demographic minority holds complete control of the economy," Duarte said.

Land redistribution is also set to be put under the spotlight with a land programme to be discussed. In its January 8 statement the party announced that it will use expropriation of land policies to fast track land redistribution.

"With no visible movement on redistribution of land, any lunatic can come out and agitate for discontent and then put the country on fire on that issue because it is at the heart of any revolution," Mantashe said.

Duarte and Mantashe criticised ratings agencies after credit rating agency Moody's agreed to pay nearly $864m to US federal and state authorities for its ratings of risky mortgage securities in the run-up to the 2008 financial crisis.

Duarte said Moody's, which has rated the South African economy negatively, had not been fair and slammed them for going beyond their mandate of assessing whether or not countries are able to repay their loans and meddling in politics.

South Africa has not had one lapse in repayment of any of its loans, she said.  

"We have been on time including on the interest we need to pay. We are not against them, we just want them to do what they are supposed to do fairly," Duarte said.

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