All set for ANC policy brainstorm



The ANC's most important policy brainstorm - held every five years - is set to get underway in Midrand on Tuesday.

At the event, no fewer than 13 policy documents will be discussed over four days, ahead of the African National Congress's national conference in December.

About 3554 delegates will attend the policy conference.

They will review the ANC's policies, the progress it has made in reaching its strategic objectives, and the state of the organisation.

The policy conference at Gallagher Estate is being held in the ANC's centenary year, and after almost 19 years in power.

On the release of the policy documents in March, Jeff Radebe, head of the ANC national executive committee policy subcommittee, said: “The ANC‘s policy conference in June will take place within a paradigm shift in the approach of the ANC towards the economic development of our country.”

In his January 8 statement, ANC president Jacob Zuma said: “Political emancipation without economic transformation is meaningless, that is why we have to commit ourselves to economic freedom in our lifetime.”

This thinking is developed in a key document up for discussion: “The Second Transition: Building a national democratic society and the balance of forces in 2012”.

Also known as the strategy and tactics paper, it suggests that the ANC has concluded its first transition into democracy, which focused mainly on political emancipation.

The party should now enter its second transition, focusing on the social and economic transformation of South Africa over the next 30 to 50 years.

“Our first transition embodied a framework and a national consensus that may have been appropriate for political emancipation, a political transition, but has proven inadequate and inappropriate for our social and economic transformation phase,” Radebe said at the launch.

The document also proposes that the ANC undergo a 10-year programme of organisational renewal “that consolidates and expands the character and values of the ANC as a revolutionary people’s movement whilst building its capabilities and its capacity for innovation and renewal”.

The other documents outline policy proposals for social transformation, state intervention in the minerals sector, economic transformation and gender.

Also on the agenda are papers on peace and stability, education and health, communications, legislature and governance, international relations and land reform.

Radebe said there would be “no holy cows” when it came to discussing the policies.

The ANC's constitution requires that a policy conference be held at least six months before its national conference, to review ANC policies and recommend amendments or new policies.

The policy decisions made at the policy conference will then be discussed and finalised at the 53rd ANC national conference in Mangaung, Free State, in December.

These policies would form the basis for the ANC government's policies, new laws or amended laws.


These are some key points from the 13 discussion documents:

-The Second Transition


A document key to the discussions, “The Second Transition:

Building a national democratic society and the balance of forces in 2012”, suggests the ANC must now enter a second era of democracy.

In the past 18 years, the ANC has gone through its first transition into democracy, where it concentrated on political emancipation.

Now it needs to introduce a “second transition” that focuses on the social and economic transformation of South Africa over the next 30 to 50 years.

ANC president Jacob Zuma has promoted the idea of a “second transition”, but it has been rejected by the ANC Youth League and SA Students Congress, as well as the ANC in Gauteng and Limpopo.


- Organisational Renewal

According to the paper on “Organisational Renewal -- Building the ANC as a movement for transformation and a strategic centre of power”, the ANC faces a “crisis of credibility”.

“Mangaung must be a turning point, because unless we halt the decay, we will soon reach a stage where it becomes irreversible.”

In the document, three main organisational weaknesses are identified --the erosion of the ANC's values; in-fighting to the detriment of service delivery; and organisational capabilities that do not match the demands of the current phase of the revolution.

The paper proposes that the ANC revitalise its grassroots structures and fast-track its large-scale infrastructure development, while enhancing the state's capacity to intervene in key sectors of the economy in pursuit of higher growth rates, employment creation and broad-based empowerment.

Urgent steps are called for to “restore the core values, stem (sic) out factionalism and promote political discipline”.


- The mineral sector

The ANC discussion document “Maximising the developmental impact of the people's mineral assets: state intervention in the minerals sector (Sims)” looks at how best to leverage South Africa’s mineral wealth to grow the economy and create more jobs.

It says the minerals sector must be placed at the heart of the national development strategy as South Africa's strongest comparative advantage.

Instead of nationalising the sector, it suggests introducing a 50 percent resource rent tax -- or a super-tax -- which kicks in only when an investor has made a reasonable return, so as not to deter investors.

Minerals key to South Africa's economy -- steel, coal, copper -- should be declared strategic and supplied to the domestic market at competitive prices, not at the current exploitative prices.


- Communications

The communications discussion document covers a range of topics from information and communications technology (ICT), to the SABC, the SA Post Office and print media.

It proposes the development of a single national information and communications technology (ICT) policy framework with ICT considered a basic utility.

Costs must be reduced by increasing competition and discouraging monopolies in the sector to allow all South Africans access to high-speed broadband by 2030.

The ownership of print media must be transformed, as it is still dominated by four big players -- Naspers, Avusa, Caxton and the foreign-owned Independent Group, with black ownership at only 14 percent and women's participation at board and management levels at just four percent.

The ANC says it is committed to free media, but it must “pay necessary attention to the print media, as it continues to play a critical role in the battle of ideas within society”.

“Within this understanding, the ANC reaffirms the need for Parliament to conduct an inquiry on the desirability and feasibility of an appeals tribunal within the framework of the Constitution.”


The document proposes that all three tiers of the government be encouraged to use the SA Post Office and the Post Bank.


- State-owned entities and development finance institutions

The main thrust of the “Economic Transformation - Policy Discussion Paper on State owned Entities and Development Finance Institutions” is that state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and developmental finance institutes (DFIs) should aid the developmental agenda, and not be overly concerned with commercial interests or making a profit.

“SOEs and DFIs are not created to maximise profits or incur losses, rather their existence is for the purpose of driving the development agenda.

“The key objective of this policy discussion paper is to ensure that state-owned commercial entities operate as powerful instruments of economic transformation and remain firmly within the control of the state...”

They should make enough money to be self-funding, while taking on developmental projects in which the private sector would not ordinarily invest.

The document suggests national savings, such as pension funds, should be used to fund development.

“As a matter of urgency, the state should regulate a substantial part of retirement and life assurance funds (public and private) in order for these funds to be invested in SOE and/or DFI financial instruments... programmes.”


- Gender

The ANC needs to tackle gender inequality in society as well as in its own ranks, where the current ANC leadership of the ANC has the lowest female representation since our democracy began in 1994.

The paper calls for the conference to look at ways to address patriarchy within its realms and society as a whole.

It calls for the speedy publication of the Gender Equality Bill, which advocates equality between men and women in the public and private sectors.

It also asks that in all government policies, such as the New Growth Path, that half of the promised jobs go to women, and that parastatals ensure they award at least 50 percent of their tenders to women.


- Land reform

South Africa's apartheid history has resulted in the unequal distribution of land ownership in favour of whites and a problematic tenant system.

Some 87 percent of land has been dominated by white commercial farming, with 13 percent allocated to the former homelands.

To address this, radical land reform was necessary, while not disrupting agricultural production and food security.

Land redistribution has been hampered by the high cost of land, so the ANC's aim to redistribute 30 percent of the land would need a review of the willing-buyer, willing-seller principle.

On the release of the policy documents in March, Jeff Radebe, head of the ANC national executive committee policy subcommittee, said: “The recommendation in this document expresses the view that the current willing-buyer, willing-seller model tends to distort the land market through inflating the prices of land earmarked for restitution, and this has the dual effect of making land reform expensive and delays the process of increasing access of the poor to land.”

The document proposes introducing an office of a valuer-general who can set standards for valuation of land that involve fair compensation.


- Social transformation

The document on social transformation looks at South Africa's need to deal with the triple challenges of poverty, under-development and unemployment if it is to build a socially inclusive society.

It calls for greater equality for women and the addressing of youth unemployment through strategies to improve education and skills levels.

Policy proposals include enhancing services to children, and a more vigorous fight against substance and alcohol abuse, such as limiting the availability of alcohol, and revising advertising and pricing policy.

It proposes the consolidation of relevant policy legislation and frameworks for better human settlement planning.


- Legislature and governance

The paper calls for fewer provinces, which should be functional, effective, economically sustainable, integrate communities on a non-racial basis and do away with ethnic boundaries. The envisaged policy changes might require constitutional amendments.

It recommends dealing with local government problems of delivery through the devolution of some functions - such as housing and transport - to cities.

South Africa should continue to hold separate local and national/provincial elections.

It suggests various measures to improve community participation in local government, such as ensuring that ward committees are made up of representatives of residents, ratepayers, business, trade unions, women’s organisations and the youth, instead of being dominated by political activists.


- International relations

The United Nations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund must be reformed, according to the ANC's discussion document on international relations.

However, it argues that African representatives will not necessarily improve the institutions.

The ANC suggests that accountability mechanisms are necessary to ensure those deployed to these institutions further the African agenda.

It criticises the G20 - a group representing 20 major developing economies - for having become a “legitimising platform” for the G8 - the group of eight of the largest economies in the world.

The document looks at how South Africa can strengthen institutions like the African Union, the New Partnership for Africa's Development, the African Peer Review Mechanism and the Southern African Development Community.

The document recommends that the ANC deepen its relations with former liberation movements while at the same time strengthening party-to-party relations with all progressive political formations in Africa.


- Peace and stability

The peace and stability discussion paper covers three areas - home affairs, justice and the police.

The section on home affairs examines how a developmental state needs a detailed, secure identification system which includes citizens and non-citizens. This ensures that the state can plan for the future and protect its people.

The department of home affairs must therefore be repositioned to manage an effective national identity system.

The justice section explores the development of policies to establish an integrated judicial governance framework headed by the Chief Justice.

It suggests the power to make rules of court relating to case management should reside with the judiciary, and rules relating to matters which impact on public policy should be approved by the executive and Parliament.

The section on the police proposes a single police service to maximise effective policing.


- Economic transformation

The economic transformation policy document's vision is to build an economy in which “the state, private capital, co-operative and other forms of social ownership complement each other in an integrated way to eliminate poverty and to foster economic growth”.

The ANC reaffirms its commitment to a developmental state located at the centre of a mixed economy. A mixed economy includes a thriving private sector and accountable public ownership and investment.

The paper calls for a clear strategy on supporting growth in Africa as well as clear and transparent guidelines for foreign direct investment.

Given the problems of broad-based black economic empowerment, the ANC must “re-assert the objective of transforming the racial character of South African capital”.

More black-owned small, medium and micro enterprises should be created, especially as they create jobs.

The document suggests that the crisis in achieving economic solutions is “partially a crisis of implementation and fragmentation”.

“We need to act by strengthening the link between ANC resolutions and our actual actions on the ground, at the same time we should have early warning systems on weak implementation.”

It calls for a debate on the youth wage subsidy -- rejected by its alliance partner the Congress of SA Trade Unions, while saying infrastructure development is the focal point of economic growth.


- Education and health

The paper suggests that South Africa is under-performing in education, particularly in numeracy, literacy, science and technology.

The higher education section proposes a continued focus on the building of a single, coherent post school education and training system. It calls for the improvement of universities and FET colleges, and for community service across the board.

The language policy for schools must be considered and Grade R should be made compulsory, as pupils who completed this pre-school year, performed better later on.

Critics of the basic education section say it does not deal with problems created by the SA Democratic Teachers' Union, HIV, improvement of schools including sanitation and access to water, or parental involvement.

The health section discusses the need to consolidate the National Health Insurance system. It calls for responsibility for major state hospitals to shift from provinces to the national department.

Military hospitals may also be integrated into the public health system.

The paper suggests that HIV/Aids be classified as a notifiable disease so that it can be monitored and controlled, and to help the government to better plan how to deal with it.

South Africa needs to spend more on research and development to make it more competitive in science and technology. - Sapa

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