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Johannesburg - The ANC and its alliance partners have tried to strike a balance between competing socio-economic and political interests, including Cosatu’s future shape, ahead of next year’s elections.
They have reaffirmed the need for a “militant” Cosatu, but also warned that divisions within one alliance component “impact all of us”.
The ANC, SACP, Cosatu and South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) also appear to have met each other halfway on the contentious National Development Plan.
While they have agreed to implement the bulk of the plan, they have also established an alliance task team to address Cosatu and the SACP’s “legitimate concerns” over aspects of the macro-economic policy, and especially the economic chapter.
Speaking after the alliance’s three-day summit on Sunday, acting SACP general secretary Jeremy Cronin announced a series of declarations that are likely to shape the tone of the ANC’s election campaign.
He was flanked by ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, Cosatu acting general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali and Sanco general secretary Ali Maziya.
Mantashe added that the task team would be constituted by people seconded by the alliance partners.
He said the summit was neither a show of force nor a show of unity.
The summit discussed, among other things, the role of the state in the economy, land reform, infrastructure and industrialisation, the labour market and youth employment, as well as the NDP.
It seems to have given President Jacob Zuma’s performance in government a thumbs-up, by praising the achievements of his administration and vowing to defend it.
“The alliance summit agreed that we must… rebut attempts from some quarters to shift the blame for the impact of this crisis on the government or the labour movement,” Cronin said.
While the suspension of Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi was not on the agenda, he seems to have been in the thoughts of delegates when they resolved how the alliance partners should relate politically.
“The long-standing tradition of complementary independence, we agreed, is not to be confused with either mechanical conformity or chronic oppositionism to each other.
“We also agreed that weakness and divisions within one or another component impact upon all of us. All alliance partners affirmed the importance of a well-organised and militant Cosatu,” they said jointly.
On land reform, the summit welcomed the government’s Green Paper on Land Reform, especially the recommendation to establish a land valuer-general to determine the value of land earmarked for restitution.
It commended the government’s “substantial advances” with the state-led infrastructure plan.
“This has boosted construction levels that have created jobs and helped to moderate the impact of the global economic slowdown,” Cronin insisted.
He added that the infrastructure programme had led to the completion of the De Hoop and Spring Grove dams in Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal respectively, the connection of electricity to seven million people since 1994, as well as the installation of one million solar water heaters to poor household owners, among other achievements.