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ANC needs to prove it can be trusted

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Reuters

South Africa's President and leader of the ruling ANC party Jacob Zuma (C) greets his supporters as he arrives for the launch of his party's election manifesto at Mbombela stadium in Nelspruit. REUTERS/Ihsaan Haffejee

Johannesburg - The ANC needs to instil renewed trust among its supporters, political analysts said on Monday.

“The manifesto doesn't influence voters. There is a trust problem at the moment, and it's not about saying where's my house and minimum wage,” Steven Friedman said.

Many African National Congress supporters felt the party was more worried about lining its own pockets.

If the ANC wanted to win back the confidence of disillusioned voters, it needed to show them that this was not the case, said Friedman.

Another political analyst, Aubrey Matshiqi, said the ANC did recognise it needed to re-establish a relationship of trust with its supporters.

During the launch of the party's manifesto in Nelspruit at the weekend, President Jacob Zuma called on ANC members to recommit themselves to the notion of service to the nation and re-establish themselves with the traditional ANC values.

He agreed that the overwhelming majority of voters would not read any political party's manifesto, including the ANC's one.

Political analyst Daniel Silke said the ANC's manifesto was a compromise document that tried to cover all the basis in terms of the alliance between the party, the SA Communist Party and the Congress of SA Trade Unions.

“The manifesto is more a political document designed to paper over the cracks within the alliance.

“The manifesto is well crafted, from a party point of view, to retain a degree of loyalty and confidence.”

On tackling corruption, Zuma on Saturday said the party would consider establishing a tender board to adjudicate tenders in all spheres of government.

He said any ANC officials and public representatives found guilty of a crime would be expected to step down from their positions.

Friedman said the ANC was missing the point with its continuous assertion that people were innocent until proven guilty by a court.

“If a person is accused of something and they go to court, it's assumed it's not a wild rumour and that person should be removed from office.

“Citizens' confidence would be greatly enhanced if you didn't have a situation where someone is on trial but holding (office),” he said.

Matshiqi said the tender board responded to two things - the reality that corruption was spiralling out of control and the fact that state capacity at provincial level was uneven.

A tender board would work if the ANC succeeded in making a capable state.

Silke said there was a credibility gap between what was written down and what the party was doing.

“Whatever is now in the manifesto in written form needs to be put into practise with immediate effect. Actions speak louder than words.”

He said the controversy around the security upgrades to Zuma's private home in Nkandla could derail talk about fighting corruption if the ANC did not handle the situation.

Looking at the ANC's manifesto analysts said the party had added some new strategies.

The idea of investigating a way to introduce a national minimum wage as a key mechanism to reduce income inequality was new, as well as talk of using employment equity legislation to deal with the wage gaps in business and tightening of strengthening broad-based black economic empowerment.

“There is an attempt to send a signal that the ANC is concerned about poverty and inequality,” said Friedman.

On the minimum wage Matshiqi said it was important that the party had added this to the manifesto. This was something Cosatu had been calling for since 2012.

However, it was important to realise that the party was not promising a minimum wage but had said it would research a modality for it.

Silke said adding something about the national minimum wage was the ANC trying to bring back wayward union members.

“(The ANC is) saying to unions we have your interests at heart, even though they were kind of vague and lacking in specifics.”

In terms of jobs, Zuma on Saturday said the party would aim to create at least six million job opportunities in the next five years.

However, Friedman said this did not mean six million people would get up every morning and go to a job in the formal sector.

Most of these jobs would be temporary jobs created through the public works programme.

“For people concerned its three months employment, it doesn't fix the unemployment problem,” he said.

Matshiqi and Silke said there was a difference between creating jobs and creating job opportunities.

“Success if much greater if it's job opportunities,” Matshiqi said.

“Even if they do not achieve this goal... they will achieve much greater success than what would be achieved by the economy as a whole.”

Friedman and Matshiqi pointed out that just because a governing party put all these ideas in a manifesto it did not mean that they would automatically become policy.

These strategies would need to be debated and negotiated.

Sapa


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