Qaanitah Hunter | When Luthuli House forgets it is the governing party

Ace Magashule.
Ace Magashule.
Jabu Kumalo

If the ANC-led alliance is so distrustful of government and those who lead government, why should the public still have confidence in it?

There was a time last week when the ANC launched a campaign against police brutality and a colleague asked tongue-in cheek: Does the ANC know it is in power?

There has long been criticism of the farcical spectre every time the ANC joins a march against government or starts a campaign against a government decision.

It seems that the party is happy with the blurred lines between party and state until government is criticised then the party wants to create distance between it and government.

Without a public campaign, the ANC can simply hold those entrusted with executive responsibility accountable.

The ANC’s contribution to Black Lives Matter would simply be to not have security forces kill black people in their homes. Or at the very least, there should be consequences for those in charge.

The effort to project Luthuli House as the watchdog over government is as bizarre as it is untrue.

This approach by Luthuli House seemed to have gone full circle when an alliance document resolved that the ANC’s top six should first scrutinise deals government strikes with international financing organisations before it signs off on anything.

In the 30 page document, the alliance political council cautioned that conditions attached to foreign debt from international financing organisations will bind generations to come.

“The Alliance Political Council therefore urged transparency in all international finance agreements, and mandated ANC Officials to scrutinise conditionalities embedded in or attached to such agreements, before the country signs,” the document reads.

It further stated:  “The Alliance agreed that consistent consultation at the Alliance Political Council level, including reports on and breakdown of funds, with specific attention on foreign finance and related terms and conditions, is crucial to ensure collective leadership and responsibility for the national democratic revolution.”

ANC secretary general Ace Magashule took it further saying if there are conditions attached to funding from the IMF or World Bank, there was an agreement that “ANC officials need to look at them”.

Obviously, this caused outrage in the top spheres of the party because it simply does not make sense.

It was already explained to the National Executive Committee that any loan taken from the IMF was to assist the country’s Covid-19 health response and that with a 1% interest rate and no terms attached, it was more favourable than going to the market.

It was also discussed in detail that National Treasury will not accept any conditions attached to the loans which may lead to structural adjustments.

The issue was debated to death in party structures and there seemed to be movement.

The alliance document further noted: “In concluding international borrowing agreements, we must therefore ensure that we also negotiate for affordable and low cost interest rates and guard against unfavourable exchange rate risks. Any foreign debt from international finance places obligations of debt servicing and repayment, not only on current, but also future generations”.

The resolution to have the top six scrutinise loan agreements before they are inked is bizarre simply because it will be signed off by ANC leaders who serve in government.

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni is a senior party leader, he would report to a Cabinet that consists of all but one ANC top leader and ultimately, President Cyril Ramaphosa has to give the go ahead.

As those who opposed the suggestion said following the party’s National Working Committee this week, that this was an effort to micromanage government.

Does Luthuli House think that its deployees in government may slip an unfavourable clause into a loan agreement of this magnitude?

Three of the six top leaders of the party are already in government and would have firm sight over any agreement anyways.

If the ANC-led alliance is so distrustful of government and those who lead government, why should the public still have confidence in it?

Factional politics aside, the ANC has to realise that whatever government does or does not do, good or bad, is a reflection of the party.

It can’t be the player and the referee.

- Qaanitah Hunter is the political editor of News24 and author of Balance of Power: Ramaphosa and the future of SA.

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