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Posts Tagged ‘Jacob Zuma

Here we go again

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Gigaba (1 of 1)

Late last night, South African president Jacob Zuma fired Pravin Gordhan and Mcebisi Jonas as Minister and Deputy Minister of Finance, and appointed Malusi Gigaba (pictured) and Sifiso Buthelezi in their place. With this move, he has gained the keys to Treasury. Aside from Finance ministry, Zuma appointed 18 new ministers and deputy ministers, including Fikile Mbalula, the former Minister of Sport, as Minister of Police. Bathabile Dlamini, Minister of Social Development, whose incompetence was recently exposed when her actions risked the well-being of 17 million South Africans, remains in her portfolio.

It all sounds so familiar. In December 2015, Zuma fired then Minister of Finance Nhlanhla Nene and replaced him with Desmond van Rooyen. After the rand plummeted more than 5%, Zuma was forced to reverse his decision and appoint Pravin Gordhan in the position three days later.

I wrote a post immediately after the appointment of Van Rooyen. Most of the points I raised there are now valid again. Zuma has captured Treasury – with a Zuma-loyalist in charge, he can now sign off on projects that benefit him and his backers, the Guptas.

The question, again, is what to do. And again I have to say, I don’t know. I see calls on social media for mass action, but I am not too sure Zuma and his cronies would pay much attention. Blog posts, I fear, will also not have much of an impact. What I will do, however, is to encourage Treasury employees, many who are brilliant economists and also good friends, to remain in office, despite the obvious challenges that they will face with a Zuma-loyalist at the helm. How long, though, can one remain honourable and incorruptible in an environment where you might become complicit in whatever shady nuclear or other deals Zuma has up his sleeve?

What this reminds me of is a tweet by veteran Zimbabwean businessman Trevor Ncube:

If something doesn’t happen soon to reverse this process of decline – and this can only happen when Zuma is gone, although that will only be a start – we risk destroying the progress we’ve made since 1994. The irresponsible actions of last night will hurt the economy badly, from a weakening currency (which has already fallen by more than 3%) to almost definite downgrade, which means more money spent on paying loans than building roads, houses and clinics. And if Zuma’s pet projects, like a nuclear deal with Russia, is signed, the cost for South African taxpayers – and the opportunity costs for South Africa’s poor – will be horrific.

Prepare for a bumpy ride.

South Africa’s long walk to economic freedom after apartheid

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Towering above  his successor: How long before Nelson Mandela's long walk to economic freedom will end?

Towering above his successor: How long before Nelson Mandela’s long walk to economic freedom will end?

South Africa’s economy is in trouble. In June, StatsSA announced that the South Africa’s gross domestic product had fallen 1.2% in the first quarter of 2016. We are on the verge of a recession, hanging on by our fingernails. Weak and weakening capacity within national government to enact the necessary economic reforms stipulated in its own policy programme (the excellent National Development Plan) is largely to blame. And it is becoming increasingly apparent that the weakening capacity is the result of appointments based more on political affiliation than competency.

Global events have contributed to the malaise. The self-inflicted Brexit wound will hurt for a long time, and may even leave a permanent scar. Austerity measures implemented in the post-Great Recession era may have reduced government debt somewhat but had the political consequences of the rise of nationalists and fascists. As an older generation of political economists would have known but many modern-day macroeconomists may have ignored in their models, economics doesn’t happen in a political vacuum. England may have been first, but right-wing groups across Europe will only be encouraged by the UK’s ‘independence’. It wasn’t only austerity, though. Demographics played its part. Again, much was said about the economics of an ageing population, but few predicted that it would have political consequences too. Old people voted for Brexit; young people, who will suffer its consequences for longer, wanted to Remain.

It is in this context that I recently wrote a short paper on the economic history of South Africa since apartheid, and the road ahead. The paper is now available as a working paper. I divide the post-apartheid in two: the first 14 years of Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki, and the next eight following the Great Recession and Jacob Zuma. While there is much to commend about the first period when the country reached GDP growth rates above 5%, the sad reality is that the last 8 have been dismal. A bloating state salary burden, ideological conflict within the ANC, and state capture have pulled the South African economy – and the poor’s prospects to enjoy social mobility – down.

I then outline a tentative plan for what to do next. The utopian dreams of the NDP are now worth little more than the paper they are written on. What is needed is a list of priorities of ‘low-hanging fruit’, policies that are affordable, politically acceptable and would support those most in need. I outline five such policies, beginning with family planning, early childhood development, education (schools and universities), and affordable and widespread broadband. Much more is needed, of course, to take us back to the optimism of the mid-2000s. But even with just a start in the right direction, I argue, we can benefit from the opportunities that a rising Africa and technological innovation have to offer.

‘The dam wall has given way’

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Rand

Last night South African president Jacob Zuma fired Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene. More than anything else that has happened in a turbulent 2015, this event will likely affect the South African economy – and therefore, ordinary South Africans – the most. As expert economist Cees Bruggemans wrote this morning: ‘The dam wall has given way’.

Minister Nene was an excellent appointment one and a half years ago as Minister of Finance. He had a tough job: amidst global instability and weak growth prospects and domestic political pressure to continue the unfettered spending on everything from government salaries to South African Airways, he had to somehow find a way to reign in public spending. And he managed to do so, even as demands on the budget – like student fee protests demanding out-of-budget expenditure – increased. When he finally stood up to the gross mismanagement of SAA last week, meddling directly in the ability of Zuma to capture an even greater share of the budget, he was removed.

We are now in a free-for-all. The new Finance Minister has no credibility, and it is likely that he will succumb to the political pressure to spend on Zuma’s pet projects. Expect debt levels to rise and the interest on the debt to increase as the Rand depreciates (see picture of what has happened to the Rand in the last 24 hours). Inflation is likely to increase significantly, followed by higher wage demands and greater levels of unemployment. To balance the budget, the only alternative to the new Minister will be to raise tax rates significantly. Or to print money, although the Reserve Bank is the only institution not yet under the remit of Zuma. How long it will take for that to happen is now a valid if tragic question.

On my Facebook feed I see friends asking what they can do. Not very much, is the sad answer. For those who can, focus on export markets, as South Africa will be much cheaper for foreigners in the foreseeable future. Advertise a room on Airbnb. Sell your design, editing, programming, consulting, or whatever service it is you do to an international audience. Change that planned European trip to a Kalahari getaway. If you can, diversify your investment portfolio into offshore markets (although you should have done that before the free-fall started).

But to stop the rot we would need to change the source of the problem: our head of state and his political cronies. Much as it pains me to say this, what he has said and what he has done now makes it clear that Zuma has little regard for the welfare of ordinary South Africans; his only aim is to fill his own pockets and those of family and friends. However much we want to hope that he will somehow reverse this course, his willingness to remove a well-respected Minister of Finance with no justification except that he stood in the way of further enrichment suggests that he won’t.

While the upper classes were busy fretting over postcolonial memory and white privilege, Zuma has orchestrated the perfect coup right under our noses. He has captured the state. No ANC member in parliament can vote against him; their livelihoods depends on his goodwill. Even those members high up in the ANC executive who may be worried about the latest turn of the events are too isolated to do anything about it. No, the only change can come from the ballot box. Unfortunately, that opportunity is a distant three years away.

We have local government elections next year. But even a considerably poorer performance by the ANC at these elections are unlikely to have an impact on the macroeconomic policies of a ruling elite now clearly uninterested in anything besides their own prosperity. Perhaps protests like the #FeesMustFall movements this year will spur change, but mass (non-violent) action like that will only hurt working South Africans with minimal inconvenience to the elite. Zuma is a survivor, and no Twitter campaign is going to change that.

No, things are likely to get much worse before they get better. And that, sadly, is the best case scenario.

Written by Johan Fourie

December 10, 2015 at 10:36

Forget the SONA embarrassment. This is how we change our future.

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lighttunnelWhat South Africans learned last night – if we did not already know it – is that if we are to make progress as a country, it will happen despite and not because of our politicians. Everyone lost in last night’s State of the Nation embarrassment: the EFF who, after chasing around one of their own MPs in the streets of Cape Town, interrupted the president repeatedly during his State of the Nation Address; the Speaker, who ordered armed police to forcibly remove the boisterous EFF members; and ANC MPs, for cheering on while EFF members were assaulted. And I haven’t even mentioned the jamming device used to scramble all cellular networks (shut down only after journalists and opposition MPs insisted that it be turned off). Or the fact that DA members marching outside were hosed down by riot police, and some arrested. The solemn figures of Thabo Mbeki and FW de Klerk in the parliamentary gallery depicted perfectly how far our country’s leadership has fallen.

But perhaps, in search of our dark cloud’s silver lining, what happened in parliament yesterday, although a reflection of the state of the nation, is not a reflection of the future of the nation. Another South African made news yesterday, news that will affect countless more lives (even South African ones) than what our president did or could say in a State of the Nation address. Instead of focusing on the sorry figure of Zuma, perhaps we should pay more attention to the ideas and plans of our greatest export in recent years: Elon Musk, founder and owner of Tesla and SpaceX, who is, incredibly, still only 41 years old. Musk announced on Wednesday that Tesla is planning to unveil a new lithium-ion battery pack that homeowners could buy to store and supply their own energy. Here’s Time Magazine:

Details on the batteries were sparse, but an obvious use would be placing them in homes equipped with solar panels to store excess energy. Solar energy company SolarCity already offers Tesla battery packs in some markets that customers can use to store energy and use as a kind of emergency generator. Musk is the chairman of SolarCity and its largest shareholder.

In addition to selling to residential customers, Tesla could also sell batteries to utilities trying to increase energy efficiency.

A shortage of electricity is arguably South Africa’s most immediate constraint: South Africa is producing less electricity than it did twenty years ago, owing to a lack of investment in new power plants and maintenance on existing ones. It is embarrassing to explain to my international visitors that, yes, we have a schedule about when power cuts will occur. Load shedding is killing investment, growth and jobs. Zuma acknowledged as much: “The country is currently experiencing serious energy constraints which are an impediment to economic growth and is a major inconvenience to everyone in the country”. He outlined short, medium and long-term responses, none new. According to most experts, we can expect load shedding for most of 2015 and well into 2016.

That is, if we trust government to deliver on its promises. We shouldn’t. Last night showed us that the best we can hope for is a government that does little harm. Don’t expect that any time soon, though. Instead, we should trust those people who have an incentive to get things right: if they do, and we begin to use batteries in our homes like we use toasters, they win fame and fortune. Musk will become an even richer genius. Politicians, in contrast, have none of those incentives. The way they make money is to skim the cream off a big tender. Delays mean larger contracts and more to skim off. There is nothing in politics that incentivize leaders to be efficient.

Entrepreneurs are different. They must innovate, improve, and deliver to satisfy the demands of millions of consumers. The better they do this, the more money they make. And this innovation improves the planet, too. Battery-powered homes (and cars and offices) will allow us to make better use of renewable energies, especially in a sunny and windy South Africa. It will allow us to connect the 3.5 million people that still don’t have access to electricity. (Consider the impact cell phone technology on African living standards.) And it will allow us to escape the inefficiencies of badly-run state monopolies. #powertothepeople #inmuskwetrust

Better politicians are not the answer to South Africa’s woes. Better entrepreneurs are. For South Africans, the light at the end of Eskom’s dark tunnel is a fast-approaching train. For Musk, it’s an entirely new world.

Written by Johan Fourie

February 13, 2015 at 10:28

How Zuma’s words disempower black South Africans

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Who wears South Africa's diamonds? Source: BBC

Diamonds (and colonialism) are forever. Source: BBC

Black South Africans have suffered a lot over the last two centuries. I am an economic historian and, together with some of my students, have recently begun a project which hopes to quantify the material inequalities between black and white South Africans over the last 200 years. It is not easy, because the colonial records have often ignored the black experience. And yet, there are clues everywhere. From early nineteenth-century government payrolls (where black translators earned one-tenthousandth of what the white governor earned) to mid-twentieth century cadaver heights (where blacks are significantly shorter in height than their white compatriots).

All this evidence points to the incredible material injury of black South Africans. And this is to say nothing of the psychological scars and social strife that has accompanied this material hurt.

This suffering is much longer than the colonial experiences of many other Africans on the continent. Although Van Riebeeck already arrived in 1652 and first contact with the isiXhosa’s at the infamous Fish River was more than a century later, this was still much earlier than the colonial experiences of other African countries, which started around the end of the nineteenth century. True, many countries across Africa suffered the vulgarities of the slave trade, most pronounced during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. But South Africa’s colonisation, I would argue, was worse, with Europeans subjugating complex agricultural societies to material inferiority by taking their lands, stealing their cattle and, above all, exploiting the minerals that they had claim to. (Is it not ironic that the Queen of England still wears Africa’s most prized diamond?)

When and where black societies adjusted to the new reality of colonialism – proverbially pulling themselves up by their shoelaces – they were punished, either through higher head and hut taxes to ensure that they remain docile labourers, or through more sinister (but also more effective) policies, like building a railroad circumventing the black areas, excluding blacks from the vote despite their immense contribution (to both sides) during the Second South Africa War, or, most infamously, by providing rubbish education (with the 1953 Bantu Education Act). For two centuries, at least until 1994, whites did their best to discourage, disrupt and, when those two did not work, destroy, African innovation and entrepreneurship.

All this changed in the new South Africa, for although blacks were (and many remain) at a serious disadvantage, there was no one to now stand in their way. And so, we witness the rise of the black middle class and the black diamonds. Sandton today is perhaps the epitome of this black entrepreneurial class; confident, successful, prosperous. South Africa has moved from a nation of between-group inequality (i.e. white vs black inequality) to a nation of within-group inequality. As an example, if all of South Africa’s whites were to leave the country tomorrow, the Gini coefficient (the measure social scientists use to quantify the inequalities of a country) would remain exactly the same. Over the last two decades, millions of black South Africans have escaped poverty and moved into the middle class; some studies estimate that this group is now close to 5 million people, larger than the total white population. And yes, whites have prospered too, despite their complaining and moaning about everything from BEE to racial quotas in the Springbok team. None of this hurt them (on aggregate), and the only things that do hurt – violent crime, corruption, blackouts – hurt black South Africans even more.

But the post-1994 South Africa is not a narrative about a minority group that represents less than 10% of South Africans. Instead, it is a story of a people rising up from the depths of economic and social deprivation. It is a remarkable story of courage, determination, and perseverance and triumph-against-all-odds. Black South Africans have claimed their birth right and begun to overturn centuries of injustice. They have had to skill up, build up collateral, educate the next generation, all with relatively little support from a government that first had to steer a sinking ship through shallow waters. And more: they have had to reconcile with racists, so magnanimous a step that we forget it is called a miracle.

And yet, when Jacob Zuma blamed apartheid for Eskom’s blackouts and when he branded Jan van Riebeeck the scapegoat for the country’s high levels of inequality, he changed the narrative again. Suddenly, South Africa was not a country where black South Africans had the agency to affect their own destiny, but one where whites had (again) the starring role. This tiny minority, Zuma implied, was the lead actor in the South African story; his statements suggest that black South Africans are, at best, supporting characters, much like in the days before 1994. While whites are up in arms at being blamed for everything, they are happy to be part of the conversation again, happy to be listened to, happy to have their say. (For, really, why should South Africans otherwise care about the opinions of a former presidential secretary?)

Zuma does this, I would argue, because it gives him legitimacy (much like Bob Mugabe gets legitimacy by blaming the whites in Zimbabwe, now less than 1% of the population). But Zuma is wrong. While this may still be a country home to millions of whites, it is certainly not a country about them. By blaming whites, Zuma is denying black South Africans the right to take ownership of their own future.

Written by Johan Fourie

February 3, 2015 at 10:43

The rhetoric of economic transformation

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Spot the entrepreneur: Oprah is not fabulously wealthy because of redistribution of wealth, but because she was a more innovative and efficient entrepreneur than her talk-show competitors

Spot the entrepreneur: Oprah is not fabulously wealthy because of the redistribution of wealth, but because she was a more innovative and efficient entrepreneur than her talk-show competitors

This week, Jacob Zuma, appointed for a  second term as president of South Africa, announced his cabinet. He will have 35 ministers and one deputy-president: I’m happy to see Pravin Gordhan move to the Ministry of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, where he can only improve the inter-governmental workings of provinces and municipalities.  Nhlanhla Neneis is our new Minister of Finance. He has been schooled for this position, but it remains to be seen if he can withstand the pressure to relax the fiscal reigns as Gordhan and Trevor Manuel did before him. Naledi Pandor returns to Science and Technology, a capable minister for an important if peripheral post, and Aaron Motsoaledi can continue the good work he has been doing in healthcare.

But, as expected, Zuma also rewarded his allies with new and important positions, in spite of some having atrocious track records. All and sundry agree that Tina Joemat-Pettersen had a terrible first term as Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (AFF). She has returned, now as Minister of Energy, a vital portfolio given South Africa’s inability to supply enough electricity for its growing demand. A sinister commentator might say that this appointment paves the way for even bigger corruption scandals in a department where massive public investments are urgently needed – think nuclear or fracking. The new minister in agriculture is Senzeni Zonkwana, long-serving head of the National Union of Mineworkers and president of the South African Communist Party. His deputy will be Bheki Cele, who was the National Commissioner of the South African Police Service until October 2011, when he was suspended from duty, due to allegations of corruption.

The appointments in the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries portfolio signal a strong emphasis by the president on land reform, which is part of his vision to ‘transform the economy’. Here’s an excerpt from his inaugural address:

Economic transformation will take centre-stage during this new term of government as we put the economy on an inclusive growth path. As the National Development Plan outlines, the structure of the economy will be transformed through industrialisation, broad-based black economic empowerment and through strengthening and expanding the role of the state in the economy.

So let me ask the obvious question: Is this really the best way to transform an economy? Does history suggest that this is indeed a road to economic transformation? Are there not better alternatives available?

But perhaps it’s best to start with a question of definition: what is ‘economic transformation’? I suspect it is not ‘transformation’ in the sense of an ‘industrial revolution’ that our president refers to. Because if you want an industrial revolution – as happened in England in the nineteenth century, and in the US in the early twentieth century, and in several Asian economies at the end of the twentieth century, and is happening in China now – it is not with affirmative action or expanding the role of the state in the economy where you would start. Instead, economic transformation is about encouraging entrepreneurs to imitate or innovate ideas, processes and technologies that will help businesses become more productive. It is the farmer adding another tractor and harvester, a digital irrigation system and genetically-modified seeds. It is the miner using improved drilling equipment, a more efficient air ventilation system, and more affordable railway transport to the ports. It is the retailer building a better distribution network, using cellphones for digital payments, finding markets that are underserviced. It is the software programmer writing a new app that allow millions of users to save time and money.

The rise of inventors like James Hargreaves (Spinning Jenny), Henry Ford (assembly plant), Kiichiro Toyoda (founder of Toyota) or Yang Yuanqing (CEO of Lenovo Computers, the frugal innovator as The Economist notes) did not come about because of broad-based empowerment policies or a bigger state. It was because the incentives of those societies allowed inventors and innovators to prosper from their brilliant ideas, sometimes with state aid, yes, but the entrepreneur, not the politician, was always the most important. The reason England experienced an Industrial Revolution was due to relative factor prices (high wages, cheap energy -> incentives) and the scientific revolution and the ideology of the Enlightenment (generation of useful knowledge, a patent system that protected new innovations and free-trade economic policies -> rhetoric). To transform, entrepreneurs must make use of comparative advantages and be encouraged to do so (or, at least, not be prevented from doing so).

There are, of course, many countries that have tried to follow different routes. Latin American countries are infamous for attempting state-sponsored industrialisation, and failing. Russia, through mass murder and communist policies, transformed their economy from agriculture to industrial at the start of the twentieth century, only to stagnate later. Communist China before the market reforms was a basket case with a few rich state officials (much like North Korea today). Closer to home, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya and Tanzania are growing rapidly not because of a larger state, but because their entrepreneurs are finding opportunities to exploit.

The policies proposed by president Zuma are, ironically, exactly the opposite of what is written in the NDP. The South Africa of 2014, it seems, believes that we can grow prosperity through a large state and the transfer of wealth. We won’t: not because we are somehow incapable of making it happen, but simply because it has never worked before. This is harsh, but true. Yet – I understand the reason for this sentiment. Our massive inequality and the populist appeal of ‘economic revolutionaries’ will make a large state that can ‘redress’ the past appealing. The truth is that our woeful education system and rigid labour laws make it difficult for the poorest to take advantage of market opportunities, which leaves them with little alternative but to absorb the populist sentiments. If you were poorly-educated, living in poverty and hopelessness, would the illusions of prosperity that the populists promise not seem very real too?

There are no easy answers. If we stay the course of a market approach, there is little doubt that inequality will remain, simply because of the massive inequalities in education. If we choose to encourage entrepreneurship, for example, many of those entrepreneurs may be white South Africans (people like Koos Bekker) who will become extraordinarily rich (Naspers is now the largest internet company outside China and the US). Even though this will boost economic growth and reduce poverty (which is the reason the US is rich), it won’t affect the distribution of income (which is the reason America is also massively unequal).

Instead, we have decided on a different type of economic transformation: redistribute existing wealth. In some sectors this will be relatively successful: Naspers has, for example, made thousands of black South Africans prosperous by offering them shares at discounted rates several years ago. This is black economic empowerment at its best. But the economic transformation the president envisages is, most likely, not limited to such slow adjustments of our income distribution, especially if change needs to happen within the political deadline of five years. So instead of encouraging imitation and innovation of our entrepreneurs, we could expect to see policies that attempt to transform ownership. Expect agriculture to see the first of these radical transformations.

Thomas Piketty argues that inequality exists because capital grows faster than the economy. This implies that the rewards to the owners of capital (rent from land, buildings, equipment) grow faster than the returns to workers (wages). While this may be true, it is a very static way to explain the exponential growth the world has seen over the last two centuries. Here’s Deirdre McCloskey’s view neatly summarised by Evan Davis:

McCloskey has long argued that economists are far too preoccupied by capital and saving. She doesn’t even like the word capitalism, on the grounds that capital is not what got us where we are today. ‘If Scotland is trying to become Holland, then capital accumulation is how to do it. That will double your income, maybe triple it.’ But for her, that sort of accumulation is a scratch-card-sized prize — and the lottery jackpot beckons. She enthuses about the Great Enrichment of the 19th century. ‘What happened, understand, is not 100 per cent growth, but anywhere from 2,900 per cent growth to 9,900 per cent growth. A factor of either 30 or 100.’

That jump in incomes came about not through thrift, she says, but through a shift to liberal bourgeois values that put an emphasis on the business of innovation. In place of capitalism, she talks of ‘market-tested innovation and supply’ as the active ingredient of our economic system. It is incidentally a system ‘drenched’ in values and ethics overlooked by economists.

Professor McCloskey has a point, of course. Think of the Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, big wealth accumulators in recent times. It wasn’t the magic of compound interest on capital that made them rich; it was intellectual property. They created billions of dollars of business from virtually nothing at all. If you measure the profits as a return on the small amount of initial capital invested, then it looks huge; but capital was no more important an ingredient of the original Apple or Microsoft than cookies or cucumbers.

And to me, this is one big distinction at the heart of the wealth equality debate: whether capital — past accumulation of savings — gets to devour the future, or whether the future is created afresh by each generation. This argument is a struggle between those who think riches are created from riches, and those who think riches are created from rags. Are big profits best viewed as a generous return on capital, in the way that worries Piketty? Or as coming from innovation that ultimately benefits us all?

Capital and saving will not make South Africa prosperous, regardless of whether it is in rich or poor, black or white hands. If we want our children’s children to be better off, we need to design policies that encourage our farmers, miners, retailers and software programmers (and talk-show hosts!) to invest in innovation. And we need our leaders, especially the president, to change the discourse on economic transformation away from the redistribution of wealth towards the empowerment of entrepreneurs.

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