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Durban - The National Union of Metalworkers has accused the ANC of abandoning the Freedom Charter because it had accepted the National Development Plan as the lodestone that would guide policies over the next 20 years.
Numsa, an influential Cosatu affiliate, is holding a briefing on Tuesday to explain its stance which includes a claim that the plan amounts to nothing more than the ideas of the ANC’s opponents, the DA.
Numsa deputy general-secretary Karl Cloete made public a scathing letter to ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte in which he urged her to read more widely.
He was responding to Duarte’s having accused the union of populism, saying it stood out “like a sore thumb” in its opposition to the plan.
In a newspaper letter last week, Duarte said the union stood “against the grain of the entire nation in its poor attempt to create further uncertainty in the local and international investor markets”.
“Numsa has always driven a populist, short-term vision for our country, a constraint we have lived with in the strategic alliance we have forged with the Congress of South African Trade Unions, where Numsa is an important ally,” she wrote.
She said local and international investment would create “the stability necessary to create the very jobs” that Numsa claimed the plan would never create.
About 4 500 ANC delegates had resoundingly adopted the plan at the party’s national conference in Mangaung in December.
“The NDP in form and content supports the ANC’s goals and has crystallised all ANC policy directives into a vision that can be implemented over a period longer than just a term of office,” Duarte wrote, adding that this occurred after the “most extensive policy consultation process that the ANC has ever embarked on”.
But Cloete hit back on Monday, saying the ANC’s “obsession with deracialising capitalism” but “leaving the colonial and class character of the South African economy intact” was not something it subscribed to.
Cloete slammed the National Development Plan as emblematic of “dancing to the tunes (sic) of imperialism in the name of ‘policy stability’, rating agencies and foreign direct investment”.
He said the Freedom Charter and the plan contained two different visions.
“Numsa still subscribes to the view that the minimum programme which forms the basis of the ANC-led alliance is the Freedom Charter and not the NDP,” he said.
“There may, of course, have been an alliance meeting in which the Freedom Charter was replaced by the NDP, but I do not know of such; I plead ignorance on this one.”
Accusing Duarte of not “reading” enough and not doing any “research”, Cloete said Numsa had consistently raised problems with the National Planning Commission since its inception, because some commissioners belonged to political parties other than the ANC.
“Our difficulty has always been the deployment of politicians and bureaucrats who were responsible for forcing Gear down our throat,” Cloete said in reference to National Planning Minister Trevor Manuel, among others.
Two weeks ago Manuel responded to Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim’s accusation that the ANC lifted DA policies for the plan, saying he suffered “from an infantile disorder that manifests as an acute aversion to anything rational”.
Cloete also took issue with Duarte’s assertion that it was “a fallacy to simply argue that because the entire society - opposition parties included - agree with what is essentially a brainchild of the ANC it must necessarily make such a plan unprogressive”.