Radical changes needed to safeguard gains – Zuma

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ss ANCconference632 INLSA FINALE: President Jacob Zuma in action at the last day of the policy conference.

MARIANNE MERTEN AND GAYE DAVIS

President Jacob Zuma praised delegates for the way they had conducted themselves during often robust debate at the ANC policy conference.

But this did not hide the fact that on a number of occasions, factional tensions spilled into the open as pro-Zuma supporters sparred in song and gesture with those wanting leadership change.

Zuma cautioned delegates that business as usual would no longer work and that the “gains of our democracy will be put at great risk” unless there was radical change for those who are “feeling the pain” of unemployment, poverty and inequality.

“It’s not a question of theory, it’s the plight of the poor,” Zuma said.

He had opened the conference on Tuesday saying a “dramatic shift, or giant leap” was needed to bring about radical social and economic change.

Yesterday he said the shift would need maximum unity of the ANC and the alliance, and the maximum unity of the South African people would need to be built to back it.

“The ANC urges all South Africans to appreciate that unless we decisively deal with racialised and gendered inequality, poverty and unemployment, our collective democratic and constitutional achievements would be put at grave risk,” Zuma said.

He highlighted the “skewed ownership and management of the SA economy, which needs to be corrected”.

Excluding the value of foreign operations, the gross black ownership of South African assets on the JSE was equivalent to 6.8 percent, Zuma said.

“Our simple estimate of Black Economic Empowerment net value – which is the value that remains after subtracting debts owed by black shareholders but without taking into account debt repayment through dividend payments – is R78 billion.”

This was equivalent to 3.3 percent of the value of South African assets on the JSE.

Gross BEE market capitalisation (excluding debts owed by black shareholders) was estimated at R170bn – equivalent to “just above three percent of the JSE’s total market capitalisation”.

“Obviously this state of affairs cannot be allowed to continue forever,” Zuma said to applause.

However, proposals on restructuring the economy and social transformation that will now go before Mangaung for ratification reflect little major deviation from previous ANC conference resolutions.

Wholesale nationalisation of the mines and other sectors of the economy was defeated in behind-closed doors discussions, despite hard arguing by ANC Youth League and trade unionists.

“With regards to minerals, there was broad consensus that minerals belong to the people as a whole, and should be governed by the democratic developmental state in the interests of all South Africans,” Zuma said.

The state should “capture an equitable share of mineral resource rents and deploy them in the interests of long-term economic growth, development and transformation”.

Expropriation of land without compensation is off the table, although the policy of willing buyer, willing seller is to be replaced by the “just and equitable” principle in the constitution, where the state acquires land for the purposes of land reform.

Foreigners would not be allowed to own land if another recommendation is agreed to at Mangaung – in keeping with the government’s land reform policy proposals.

Zuma said an audit of state-owned land and surveys of public land had to be completed by December.

Zuma said the following state interventions were proposed:

l Financial regulation and control, including through a state-owned bank.

l Wage and income policies that promote growth and address poverty and inequality.

l Progressive competition policies aligned to development objectives.

l A well-resourced, state-led programme to implement industrial and trade policies.

l State ownership, including more strategic use of existing state-owned companies.


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