Parliament and the ANC at odds

Two messages in Parliament from the ANC….

sacp logoTo say that the African National Congress, or even the cabinet, is at odds with Parliament is not infer that the ANC as a party is trying to undermine the parliamentary process (although there are some that insist that this is the case) but rather to point out that with an election coming, the ANC Alliance is trying to speak to two audiences at the same time and not doing a particularly good job at either. In the governing alliance there is the extreme left represented by members of the South African Communist Party, represented by such parties as Dr Rob Davies, minister of trade and industry, responsible for BEE and the country’s contentious swing in trade relations to BRICS from the EU and the USA. Then there is Yunus Carrim, a member of the SACP politburo, who just assumed the communications mess; Jeff Radebe, SACP central committee, who is strongly involved in matters regarding the independence of the judiciary, countered it seems by stalwart DA member Dene Smuts at every step; Ben Martins, SACP central committee, who has just taken over the energy portfolio and appears not to be pushing any buttons at present.

SACP “heavies”

Then there is Jeremy Cronin, first deputy general secretary, SACP in transport, and in all this, Gwede Mantashe, on the right hand of president Jacob Zuma as secretary general of the ANC, also chairman of the SACP. One would therefore be correct in assuming that South Africa is way beyond just being on the left when it comes to being an ordinary socialist party, leaving such hard workers as Dr Aaron Motsoaledi in health, Collins Chabane and Trevor Manuel in the presidency structure; and others such as Edna Molewa looking almost “middle of the road”.

Certainly well left of centre

Consequently the messages coming out to business and industry as South Africa totters towards elections are many and varied in the public domain and one can sense that with press statements issued to the media on various subjects, politicians are hardening up on their adjectives and appearing consequently more “left” every moment. It would be wise to discount much that is said by politicians at this stage and rather listen to departmental heads in Parliament as they struggle to report the demands of the politicians and answer on service delivery. In the next few months what is said in the working portfolio committees will be of greater value in the period leading up to the moment when the ballot box concludes the situation.

Who pays in the end

Whilst many departmental officials may not be up to their jobs or meeting their targets contributing to the immense vacuum in service delivery that is taking placing in SA mainly because of its unskilled three-tier government, there is also an unfortunate chasm also developing in government policy and business on such issues as BEE, investment incentives and the degree of welfare support to the poorer section of the community and who should pay for this and how. How far government will go in regulatory controls, creating endless state advisory and control boards coupled with endless red-tape leading to a ‘nanny state” of supreme proportions, is not the only issue facing business.    Immigration, foreign relations, labour and land reform are all taking on hardened political profiles for a while.

Land of honey and state control

In Australia, where regulatory controls are endless, the mechanisms behind this monotonous life style are of first order and work well.   In South Africa they are not and don’t work well, hence the problem. How much of this is being driven by SACP–type thinking insofar as centralist, proletariat and state control principles are concerned is critical. There seems to be a division between those in the ANC who believe that BEE driven at a hard pace and is the answer to growth and those who believe that overseas investment is the key growth and jobs. Both avenues of thinking appear to be clashing within the ANC Alliance at the moment as political platforms are developed.

Elections looming

As the country discusses resources, growth and job creation with elections looming, means that what is said in Parliament at portfolio committee level remains where reality will remain, in order to monitor what is actually going on technically and from the viewpoint of truth. The prejudice that is built up in the mind by reading, in the media, of constant corruption amongst high officials; the statements by electioneering politicians preaching to the masses and the vacillation of  an unsure cabinet at these times can lead to a feeling of foreboding, perhaps that Parliament that is not working. The fact is that with an election coming, much will be said in the public arena will not be of a useful nature and much of the electioneering will have to be discarded as far as establishing what is actually going on in government.

Leaning to port

But there is, without doubt, as far as government policy is concerned a strong leaning to the left.   With a trade and industry minister and justice minister indicating that growth is directly related to the enforcement legally of black empowerment, new labour rules and adding criminalisation to the process, many of the Bills so hotly contested in Parliament will be blasted through by simple majority. This is bearing in mind that Parliament is currently engaged in the last two sessions of a five year government and there is a mighty backlog of Bills affecting those policies.

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