The ANC Youth League wants the Cosatu labour federation, which is one of the ANC’s two partners in the ruling alliance, to withdraw its allegation that some in the ruling party are self-serving political hyenas. The latest round started with a Youth League news conference to spin the outcome of the National General Council their way and was followed by a statement from Cosatu giving the context of general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi’s comments.
“We are still suffering from flu from Durban… and already Vavi insults leaders of the ANC as hyenas,” Malema told reporters at Luthuli House in Johannesburg.
The ANC’s national general council (NGC) in Durban last week came out strongly against ill-discipline and public spats.
“That spirit of the NGC was completely undermined by the general secretary of Cosatu,” Malema said.
He urged ANC leaders to take action.
“Delegates spoke in one voice that discipline must be applied consistently… we are awaiting that consistency from leadership.”
Wearing a polka dot shirt and a black suit Malema, accompanied by the ANCYL national working committee, briefed journalists on the Youth League’s take on the NGC.
Malema himself was subjected to disciplinary action earlier this year over public comments comparing President Jacob Zuma to his predecessor Thabo Mbeki.
ANCYL secretary general Vuyiswa Tulelo, flanking Malema at the briefing, said the league would press on with its bid to have disciplinary charges against Malema dropped. The ANCYL’s attempt to have the charges nullified at the NGC was shot down.
That was from the news conference, but here is the ANCYL’s NGC wrapup and Cosatu’s response to the news conference comments:
By AMUKELANI CHAUKE and CHARLES MOLELE
Trade union federation Cosatu has blamed the ANC for 16 years of “failed” economic policies, and has demanded an overhaul of the South African economy.
Launching Cosatu’s alternative economic policy in Johannesburg, general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said the labour federation would push for it to be considered at the ANC’s national general council next week.
He said: “Policies implemented since 1994 have not improved the lives of our people or yielded development. Instead, we have more unemployment, more poverty and more inequality.”
Vavi also called for:
The creation of a state-owned bank to cater for poor working-class South Africans;
The nationalisation of critical sectors like mining, metal and petrochemicals and the creation of a state company to oversee nationalisation;
A progressive tax system, with an introduction of a tax category for the “super-rich” and a solidarity tax that aims to cap the growth of earnings of the top 10% and to accelerate the earnings of the bottom 10%;
Strengthening of the rand against the US dollar and the abolition of inflation targeting; and
The creation of full-time jobs through the government’s Expanded Public Works’ Programme and a ban on labour broking.
Vavi said Cosatu would submit the document to the minister of economic development, Ebrahim Patel, in the hope that he would include it in his final growth path document.
“It is going to be our Koran and Bible and nobody will burn it,” Vavi said.
“We are not necessarily calling for the ‘wholesale or blanket’ nationalisation of all mines in SA. We don’t think that is a realistic proposal. It must be a strategic intervention by the state – not to own the entire construction industry, for example, that cannot be practical.
“We do want a state that can play a more direct role in all the areas we think are strategic on the economy.”
Vavi dismissed concerns that nationalisation would drive away foreign investors: “If everything we do had to be approved by investors then we would be stuck in the current situation for 100 years more.
“In Botswana there is a partnership by the state and the mining industry, a company from South Africa called De Beers which is in 50-50 partnership with the government, and that has not scared investment from Botswana.”
Econometrix chief economist Dr Azar Jamine said that Cosatu’s document addressed the inequalities faced by of the working class, but he was concerned by the “prescription” of relying on the state to “intervene and control everything”.
Jamine said the government did not have the capacity to run a new state-owned entity to oversee nationalised sectors.
He said the proposal for a state-owned bank had merit because banks were reluctant to lend money to the poor because of pay-back risks.
Jamine said Cosatu’s insistence that the government drop inflation targeting might address job losses and create jobs, but “it would just cause the inflation to go up, causing the same working class to suffer even more”.
Analyst Daniel Silke said Cosatu’s proposal on alternative economic policies had enough weight to be considered for discussion at the ANC’s national general council.
“All alliance partners are [in] competition against each other to present alternative economic proposals at next week’s NGC,” Silke said.
The ANC is expected to discuss persistently high unemployment and ways of dealing with the strength of the rand.
Senior ANC official Enoch Godongwana said that the party would review its economic policy.
“I know a number of people have raised the [tax on capital flows] issue . Our view is that we’ve got to look at the multiplicity of variables [to tackle the rand] in the economy.”
“It’s all very well to say we’ve got to reduce interest rates . It’s not an easy question.”
The anniversary of Ruth First’s assassination gave everyone a chance to assume what she might have made of the state of South African politics today. Zwelinzima Vavi, the general secretary of the Cosatu labour federation, presumed to know that she would have opposed the ANC’s move to restrict media freedom; Blade Nzimande, the general secretary of the South African Communist Party, presumed to know that First, a former journalist, would have been in the frontline, fighting for a media appeals tribunal; and the ANC Youth League was outraged that Nzimande should think she would have been disappointed to see what had become of the ruling party’s youth wing – and presumed to know she would have endorsed its leadership – for which read Julius Malema.
Read them for yourself: