The African National Congress (ANC) is set to adopt its various policy positions on the 5th of January after its national conference was adjourned last month.
The party’s policy conference took place in July last year and the latest meetings will see a rubber-stamping of what was set out then or otherwise.
The economic policy considerations being discussed are wide-ranging, covering issues of land, energy, BEE, skills development, fiscal and monetary policy, among others. But whatever is decided, policy processes take time and energy and the issue of a capable state to ensure the translation of policy into reality is also key.
Economic policy to be major topic ANC National Conference reconvenes:
The ANC’s policy conference in July 2022 was the precursor to the finalisation of policy at the 5-yearly national conference, in this case, the 55th iteration.
The ANC says it’s looking at the land issue to address availability for human settlement, redistribution thereof, and to boost economic activity in the hands of the majority of South Africans.
The party says it will be seized with policy reform that seeks to ensure that Eskom becomes more efficient as a power supplier, given its perceived strategic importance to the development of the local economy.
With the constant complaint of neglect, the ANC will be pushing for greater support for SMMEs, which are said to be significant role players in boosting a country’s economic fortunes and the party remains keen to establish a State Bank, which it says is an absolute must to adopt.
With the country’s social ills deepening, especially with unemployment being at unacceptable levels, the party is keen to show that it’s a caring one, with the Basic Income Grant agreed upon in principle.
The ANC continues to look at the issue of nationalizing the South African Reserve Bank, even though it’s highly unlikely this will happen in the near future, and is also mulling the idea of possibly amending the mandate of the Bank to better include issues like the higher cost of living.
“Some people say that that model’s imbedded within neo-liberalism and that the SARB has to expand its mandate by responding to issues of unemployment, poverty and printing of money, so that’s the rationale behind nationalisation of the SARB, but I don’t think that idea is going to take off the ground. I think the market forces could be vehemently opposed to that,” says Political and Economic Expert Dr Ntsikelelo Breakfast.
The ANC is looking to push through proposals that really assist the grassroots economy, like the township and rural economies, and the assistance of SMMEs with an emphasis on women-owned and youth-owned enterprises. And says it sees scope for growth in the area of innovation and the fourth industrial revolution, which it’s hopeful will serve to improve opportunities, particularly for the youth.
Political and Policy Expert Theo Venter says, “What we may expect is that a lot of the discussions which will be adopted on the 5th of January will find their way into the Sona and will find their way into the budget, but then the process of implementation starts.”
No matter how sincere and positive its policy positions are, the ANC has often been criticised for its ineffective translation of the same, with its inability to populate the state with a high level of competency.
Dr Breakfast adds, “I think the common ground has always been a developmental state, a state that leads development – this idea comes from the Asian tigers – but those economies – they had strong bureaucracies and people who were highly skilled and disciplined and highly professional as opposed to ours, so the problem in our own backyard has been the issue of cadre deployment – people who are competent, who are skilled, not willy nilly.”
Other issues on the agenda will include an emphasis on skills development to gear up young people for employment. The focus on infrastructure also continues, especially bringing a halt to construction mafias.
And, importantly, following the COP 27 talks in Egypt, the party will be fine-tuning its position on the country’s just energy transition.
The ultimate positions will come to light following the policy adoptions on Thursday.