Thoughts on South African and international politics and culture

Monday, February 25, 2008

ANC "not neccessarily moving left"
The universally respected Dr Steven Friedman writes an op-ed piece in the Business Report around the misunderstanding of the political and economic realities in the new ANC leadership.
But Friedman said the alliance that elected Zuma was a very disparate group and there was no certainty about the role the Left would play in decision making. He pointed out that last March Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said he would flood the ANC membership with people prepared to push the party in Cosatu's direction.

"But that hasn't happened," said Friedman. "The new leadership is not a working-class group. Most of them have stakes in the companies Vavi wants to nationalise."

Friedman identified a number of different elements within the national executive committee (NEC).

"There are the SACP and Cosatu, representing the Left; the ANC Youth League; the old ANC intelligence network - people like [former director-general of the National Intelligence Agency] Billy Masetla; the KwaZulu-Natal base, like finance MEC Zweli Mkhize; and there are people in it for their own material growth."

He also identified two other groups of considerable importance. "One is a diverse collection of people, marginalised by Mbeki, like ANC treasurer-general Mathew Phosa. They are a very big group, significantly bigger than the Left.".

And there was an influential group calling for a "third way", which hoped to find an alternative to both Zuma and Mbeki. Friedman said it included cabinet ministers Pallo Jordan and Zola Skweyiya, as well as ex-cabinet minister Vali Moosa.

Friedman urged business to engage with the new leadership and discuss concerns with the people in the NEC.

The article summarises what I have been trying to push for some time. We keep trying to look at the ANC through Western prisms, when the leader of the ANC party is not usually the decision-maker. Mbeki was the ultimate decision-maker in his cabinet, but it is this type of leadership that has sparked the current "revolution" in voter sentiment. There are many players in the NEC and the NWC who hold vast business interests, the it is much more likely that a third way scenarion will occur. Read the whole op-ed piece here.