No new major thinking forthcoming out of ANC Policy Conference despite economic challenges: Booysen

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The ANC National Policy Conference was supposed to be engaging in “new major thinking” on the back of economic, socio-economic, and fiscal issues, among others, facing the country. That is according to Political Analyst Susan Booysen, who says looking at policy discussion documents, it is evident no major shift in policy to address these challenges should be expected from the ongoing conference.  

“That is a sense I got from the policy documents as well, that it’s about tweaking, fine-tuning, correcting here and there, but not major new policies and that is fascinating because it is a country that is in such a big crisis in many ways,” says Booysen.

Booysen has warned that whatever resolutions the conference comes to on the controversial step-aside rule, branches could still come up with new positions on the matter and challenge it, come the ANC’s elective conference in December. 

One of the major issues the ANC seeks to deliberate on at its 6th policy conference is the way the party would like to attract the middle class and the working class into its structures.  

Booysen says it is a serious indictment on the party that they feel the middle class is no longer in their ranks.  

Recently, former president Thabo Mbeki lambasted the ANC accusing it of not having an economic plan to address poverty and unemployment. 

Speaking at late ANC Deputy Secretary-General Jessie Duarte’s memorial service, Mbeki said, “As I am standing here, we do not have an agreed national plan to address these challenges. Comrade President Cyril Ramaphosa, when he addressed the state of the nation in February, that is where he said that in 100 days there must be a comprehensive social compact to address these matters. Nothing has happened. I am saying, to honour the legacy of comrade Jessie, we got to do something about that.” 

Booysen says it is rich coming from Mbeki, under whom the Growth, Employment, and Redistribution (GEAR) economic policy was adopted. She says the policy didn’t take the country anywhere and that Ramaphosa only followed “incrementally, cumulatively under economic policies that had already been in place.”