Wiseman Khuzwayo

The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) unleashed a barrage of criticism at the government’s National Development Plan (NDP) yesterday, saying it was based on the DA’s policies and neoliberalism, and should be rejected.

In a critique of the state’s prestigious plan, Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim said the NDP had no plan to support industrialisation and manufacturing.

He said the NDP had been adopted by the ANC at its Mangaung conference last December because there was clearly an “emerging, moderate non-racial centre” in South Africa after 1994, which had its origins in the DA.

Numsa’s mother body, the trade union federation Cosatu, was still straddling the fence with its stance on the NDP.

Last week, Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said the federation as a whole had not yet outright rejected the plan, but it had taken issue with sections of it, particularly those pertaining to the labour market.

Vavi said yesterday that the policies on the labour market in the NDP – the brainchild of the National Planning Commission, chaired by Planning Minister Trevor Manuel, with ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa as his deputy – generated a sense of déjà vu.

“We have been through this before, through that document called Gear,” Vavi said, referring to the government’s 1990s Growth, Employment and Redistribution policy.

The roadmap has otherwise been hailed as sound by other sectors of the economy, including business.

Jim said the DA had aptly remarked after the adoption of the NDP by the ANC: “The adoption of the DA’s vocabulary throughout the NDP is striking. It borrows much of the same analytical framework that underpins our own political philosophy – the ‘open opportunity society for all’.”

Jim and Cedric Gina, the president of Numsa, have said that the delegates to the ANC conference in Mangaung had probably adopted the NDP without having read the 400-page document.

Jim said yesterday that Numsa thought there was a crisis in the tripartite alliance of the ANC, the SACP and Cosatu if the Freedom Charter was not implemented and the NDP was.

He said the NDP and its diagnostic report were based on a false, theoretically weak analytical foundation, in a thinly veiled attempt to conceal the underlying false neoliberal assumptions about South Africa and the country’s developmental challenges.

Jim denied the Freedom Charter was no longer an ANC policy document, saying there had been no ANC conference to reject it. New ANC national executive committee members were inducted with the charter.

Jim said: “State ownership or nationalisation is not part of the NDP. This means the Freedom Charter’s call that ‘the mineral wealth beneath the soil, the banks and monopoly industries shall be transferred to the ownership of the people as a whole’ will not be realised.”

Jim said the NDP called for a minimalist role for the state. This would be limited to administering tenders to the highest bidder.

“Private capital will be responsible for putting concrete on the ground while the state’s role is to raise debt and to collect taxes to pay to private capital, which will be responsible for the actual building of infrastructure,” he said in his critique.

Jim said the labour market reforms of the NDP espoused one of the core pillars of neoliberalism, namely labour market deregulation aimed at “breaking down” trade unions and Cosatu in particular, which were now seen as the barriers to job creation.