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Mangaung memories

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ANC delegates show their support. Photo: Daniel Born (TimesLive)

ANC delegates show their support. Photo: Daniel Born (TimesLive)

News from the ANC’s national conference at Mangaung in mid-December focused almost entirely on the leadership battle within the ruling party. Most of the reports that I’ve read, view Jacob Zuma’s victory over Kgalema Mothlanthe as a step backwards for the ANC and for future South Africa or, at least, a directionless step to nowhere (see also my previous post). But a recent Facebook update from a journalism friend who attended the conference, paints a slightly more optimistic picture. TJ Strydom of The Times chatted to dozens of delegates during the conference. “The overwhelming majority of them were smart people with a true passion for South Africa. They laugh deeply and are friendly, hospitable, well-informed, and interested in the world around them.” These are his reasons why South African should be optimistic about Mangaung:

  • nationalisation (in the way the ANC Youth League wanted it) is off the agenda;
  • some the worst opportunists the ANC has produced over the last century is on their way out: cheers Mbalula, Mathale, and Phosa;
  • those crazy populists – you know who – are not allowed to join the organisation again;
  • land reform will be less severe than many expected and will certainly not emulate our northern neighbour;
  • the most inclusive development plan that the country has ever had – the NDP – was accepted and its implementation is now being fast-tracked;
  • ANC members that are accused of corruption (and other such crimes) will be suspended from public office;
  • South Africa will have its best ever vice-president by 2014 (Cyril Ramaphosa)

“The focus has shifted from a simple redistribution agenda to a development agenda. This is not the vague concept of the ‘development state’, though. There is a plan. Many pundits suggested that the NDP will be torpedoed at the conference. It wasn’t. In fact, it was approved with no significant changes at the highest level as a blueprint for the next 20 years. More importantly, the NDP was ranked higher than the short-term growth plans such as the New Growth Path and the Industrial Action Plan.”

“Of course there are blind spots. We don’t know what the new tax on mines will be like. Perhaps Kgalema Mothlathe will resign soon. The ANC still has a deep mistrust of the media. But for the first time in many years the ANC is willing to accept its own faults. Every organisation has them. It’s in all South Africans interest that they sort them out. And I think they will.”

Written by Johan Fourie

December 24, 2012 at 07:27

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