ANC Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa warned his own party about this grim prospect, according to those privy to Thursday's high-powered meeting between officials of the ANC, SACP, Cosatu and the SA National Civic Organisation at Luthuli House in the Joburg CBD.
Ramaphosa is said to have cautioned that the government might not be able to meet salary increase demands by the unions. His presentation to the alliance partners painted a bleak picture of the state's coffers, which are running dry due to the continued theft of resources.
He also cried foul about the lack of punitive action against the culprits, saying this was eroding confidence in the governing party. The ANC, SACP, Cosatu and Sanco jointly appeared to concur with Ramaphosa’s blunt assessment of the sluggish economic growth and related problems besieging the governing party and the country. In a joint statement, the parties said: “Inequality, poverty and unemployment are exacerbated by the low growth levels of our economy.”
The meeting also expressed concern about the increasing debt levels and agreed to hold in-depth discussions throughout November.
And following reports of attempts to raid the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) to bankroll ailing SOEs, the parties agreed to protect the entity.
The endorsement that employees' pension funds should be safeguarded came after Ramaphosa urged public servants, particularly the SA Democratic Teachers Union, during its national general council early this month, to play a watchdog role against the misuse of their pensions.
The parties also agreed on the urgent implementation of the commission of inquiry to probe state capture.
ANC leaders, however, are believed to be divided on the outcome of Zuma’s application in the high court in Pretoria to set aside the State of Capture report. In their statement, the alliance partners said only that “this matter must be brought to finality as a matter of urgency”.
“President Zuma is of the view that he will win," said an insider. "He is supported by Jessie Duarte. Cyril Ramaphosa and Gwede Mantashe do not share that view. The ANC leadership is divided on that matter.”
According to sources, Zuma was looking forward to establishing a commission of inquiry, including a judge to hear the case. The court ruling is likely to be made in December and possibly during the ANC elective conference.
However, sources said “the president is confident the court would rule in his favour”.
The meeting was held amid tensions between alliance partners, following President Zuma’s decision to axe Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande from his cabinet. The partners agreed that in the future proper consultation needed to be undertaken before such radical changes were taken in the cabinet, Parliament and other spheres of government.
They also conceded that relations between them were currently at their lowest levels and committed to a series of measures to address this situation. However, Nzimande’s matter has apparently been referred to an ANC and SACP bilateral meeting for them to find solutions to what appears to be a tiff between Zuma and Nzimande.