KAREN HOFMAN

‘SUGAR TAX’ IN THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE NATION

KAREN HOFMANPROFESSOR KAREN HOFMAN

Twenty years ago, encountering obese children was rare – so was children with diabetes. Only ‘the old people’ got high blood pressure or diabetes (colloquially called ‘Sugar’), cancer was not that common – and we certainly were not a nation of fatties.

Today South Africans are the most obese people on the continent. Diabetes has doubled in 20 years, high blood pressure is very common and almost everyone knows someone with cancer. So common in fact that these diseases together are rivaling HIV.

So what happened? Did we all suddenly lose all self-discipline become a nation of gluttons and couch potatoes who cannot stop eating and never exercise?

No, we didn’t – although Big Food (and the drink companies) would have us to believe that getting fatter and fatter is all our own fault. The biggest thing that has changed over the past twenty years is our diets, and in particular the number of sugary drinks we consume.

Sugary drinks include fizzy and non-fizzy soft drinks, fruit drinks, energy and sports drinks, all sweetened milk and yoghurt drinks and fruit juices (yes, fruit juice).

Between 2001 and 2015, the sales of sugary drinks in South Africa grew by over 65%.

It is noteworthy that most of the spend by industry is not on the actual products being produced – but on relentless and aggressive marketing spend, to influence and shape our consumption habits.

Big Food (and the beverage companies) are deliberately targeting the lower living standards measurement (LSM) market, particularly in developing countries such as ours.

In other words, they are deliberately focusing their attentions on hooking the poor, to get them to consume more and more fizzy, sugary drinks with absolutely no nutritional value.

This should be of great concern to everyone, but in particular to lawmakers in this country who are responsible for ensuring that our health budget is spent efficiently and optimally.

At the same time that our sugary drink consumption has exploded, so have our waistlines. Between 1998 and 2012, obesity grew from 30% to almost 40% in women, and from 7.5% to 10.6% in men.

Obesity-related diseases such as diabetes are putting an immense strain on the public health system, a system that is already struggling to deal with the huge burden of HIV and tuberculosis.

There is overwhelming scientific evidence that sugary drinks are one of the most significant contributors to health problems such as diabetes, obesity, heart diseases, liver and kidney diseases, certain cancers and tooth decay –all of which are entirely preventable.

Sugary drinks are also linked with under-nutrition. Often babies are given sugary drinks to wean them off breast milk, but these drinks have no nutritional value so these babies become under-nourished and some are even stunted. Stunted babies have a much greater risk of becoming obese and diabetic.

To put matters into perspective, we should consider that a loaf of bread and a two-litre fizzy drink is one of the commonest lunches in the country, despite the fact that although sugary drinks have so much sugar, they don’t make us feel full – so we do not eat less and our total energy intake increases.

There are so many sugary drinks being sold that the volume is equal to every one of us drinking more than a cup (260ml) of sugary drinks per day. This doesn’t count the extra sugar we might add to our tea or coffee, nor does it include the many teaspoons of “hidden” sugar in a lot of processed food, much of it marketed as “low fat”.

Most people are unaware that a standard 330ml can of fizzy drink contains about 10 teaspoons of sugar; important if one considers that the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that people have no more than 12 teaspoons of sugar a day.

What we eat and drink has much more influence on our weight than a lack of exercise. Yet between 2010 and 2015 the beverage giant Coca Cola spent $120-million on research aimed at undermining the link between sugary drinks and poor health.

The same company helped to set up organizations such as the Global Energy Balance Network (GEBN) that shifted the blame for obesity away from diet – to a lack of exercise.

Not all calories are the same though. Sugar in a liquid form is particularly bad as it exhausts the supply of insulin much faster than when the sugar is consumed as a solid.

This allowed the development of diabetes at much younger age. Many women over 50 consider their diabetes to be “normal”.

Successive resolutions of the governing party, the African National Congress (ANC) have promoted the need for the ANC and government to ‘embark on activities to promote healthy lifestyles through mobilization of individuals and communities to engage in physical activities, good dietary practices and reduction of harmful use of alcohol, tobacco and to control substance abuse.”

The 2012 National Policy Conference of the ANC for instance resolved “to accelerate regulations on diet and content of salt in foodstuffs,” amongst other things.

In a far-reaching and progressive move that should be lauded, Treasury has proposed a new tax on sugary beverages, at a tax level of 0.0229 Rand per gram of sugar – or 20%.

This 20% tax on sugary drinks could reduce obesity prevalence by 3.8% among men and 2.4% among women, according our economic modelling.

This means that a quarter of a million South Africans could be prevented from suffering from obesity-related sicknesses.

The proposed tax would also raise around R6.4 billion a year, and Treasury has promised that it will use much of this revenue to fund health initiatives.

A tax on sugary drinks will be to save many more lives among the poor, as was the case with the tobacco tax.

It is a reality that the most vulnerable in our society are more responsive to price increases and it is also they who generally suffer far more from obesity-related health problems than wealthier people, who can afford healthier food and better healthcare.

But a but a higher level of 0.0344 Rand per gram – 30% – would be even better to reversing the rising rates of obesity. It is a more realistic figure to reach the goals we have set ourselves in the National Development Plan (NDP) as well as the global Sustainable Development Goals. (SDG’s) adopted by the United Nations in December 2015.

Predictably there has been stiff opposition from Big Food and the beverage industry, which has been
employing scare tactics in an attempt to rattle government away from implementing the tax.

Their tactics are similar to those used by the tobacco industry, which in previous decades also paid scientists to underplay the dangers of smoking.

The Beverage Association of South Africa (BevSA), which represents Coca Cola and other sugary drink companies, has hired two companies to look at the economic impact of the sugary drinks tax.

The company is claiming that around 60 000 jobs will be lost as a result of the proposed tax.

It should be considered that currently the beverage industry only employs around 14 500 people.

Both Treasury and independent economists, including Dr Neva Makgetla, from the Trade and Industry Policy Strategies, an independent group), say that the job loss figure is hugely exaggerated.

When Mexico, and Berkeley, California in the USA, introduced taxes on sugary drinks, there were no job losses. In addition, the sales of healthier alternatives increased.

Globally, taxes have clearly worked. Mexico had the world’s highest intake of sugary drinks. After a year, sugary drink purchases amongst the poorest third of the Mexican population were reduced by around 15% and consumers started replacing sugary drinks with healthier beverages like water.

Clearly the sugary drinks tax is only the first step in our journey to manage the obesity crisis.

It needs to be followed by many other interventions, including a public education campaign about healthy diet, and supported by mandatory regulations to prohibit marketing to our children, as well as clear information on all products – so people know how much sugar they are drinking if they choose to do so.

What is clear is that we cannot afford to wait any more.

South Africa is becoming more obese by the day. In the 5 years since we did our research another quarter of a million people became obese.

This sugary beverage tax will save lives.

Critically, it will cut healthcare costs in both the public and private sector.

As we head towards National Health Insurance (NHI), the cost savings in healthcare will be key – and revenue from the tax can be used to fund healthy initiatives.

This is a historic decision that we should all support.

PROFESSOR KAREN HOFMAN IS THE DIRECTOR OF PRICELESS SA (PRIORITY COST EFFECTIVE LESSONS FOR SYSTEMS STRENGTHENING) BASED AT THE WITS SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH. 

PRICELESS is research programme providing information on “Best Buys” for health in SA.  Analyses show how scarce resources, can be used effectively, efficiently and equitably to achieve better health  outcomes.

A medical graduate of the University of the Witwatersrand and trained as paediatrician, Karen served as Director of Policy and Planning at the US NIH, Fogarty International Center and was on faculty at Johns Hopkins. She has consulted for WHO /PAHO and is published widely in international journals.

 

BUILDING PARTY UNITY A FITTING TRIBUTE TO OR TAMBO LEGACY

CDE. CYRIL RAMAPHOSA

 This month we mark the 105th birthday of the oldest liberation movement on this continent, the African National Congress.

 This tremendous achievement is the result of the dedication, sacrifice and hard work of millions of people – in South Africa and across the world – who acted in unity to ensure that we can live in a free South Africa.

 As we celebrate the 105th anniversary of our movement, we gather also to pay tribute to a hero of our people and a true son of this soil.

 Oliver Reginald Tambo, the longest-serving President of our movement, would have been 100 years old this year.

The National Executive Committee of the ANC has therefore decided to dedicate this year – his centenary – to him.

 This is the year of Oliver Reginald Tambo.

 This is the year in which we celebrate his extraordinary life and supreme contribution to our freedom.

 This is the year in which we honour his memory by pledging to strive together, sparing neither strength nor courage, to achieve his vision of a free, democratic and united society.

 This is the year in which we affirm the statement by former President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela when he declared:

 “I say that Oliver Tambo has not died, because the ideals for which he sacrificed his life can never die…

 “I say that Oliver Tambo has not died because the ideals of freedom, human dignity and a colour-blind respect for every individual cannot perish.

 “While the ANC lives, Oliver Tambo cannot die!”

 Today we say that for as long as we keep alive the ideals for which Oliver Tambo lived and sacrificed, the ANC will not die.

 For Oliver Tambo, this son of Mbizana, the unity of our people and the integrity of our liberation movement was paramount.

 When the ANC sent him to establish the ANC in exile, he understood that he had been entrusted the task of ensuring that the movement survives the brutal onslaught unleashed by the apartheid regime on our people and on the members, leaders and structures of our movement.

 But more than that, he had been entrusted with the task of rebuilding a powerful instrument of national liberation.

 He understood that no matter the difficulties of the moment, he was to be the glue that would bind our glorious movement together.

 Addressing the people on 68th anniversary of the ANC in 1980, he spoke words that are just as true over 30 years later.

 He said:

 “The need for the unity of the patriotic and democratic forces of our country has never been greater than it is today.

 “Our unity has to be based on honesty among ourselves, the courage to face reality, adherence to what has been agreed upon, to principle.”

 Now, in 2017, in the circumstances of the present, we are bound to acknowledge that the need for the unity of the patriotic and democratic forces of our country has never been greater than it is today.

 For although we have made great progress since 1994 in improving the lives of our people, we have not yet overcome poverty, hunger, disease, unemployment, illiteracy and inequality.

 We have improved the lives of millions of our people.

 But we have not yet achieved the objective of a better life for all.

 This January 8th, we are saying that we will not be able to build a better life for our people without a strong, united and capable ANC.

 This January 8th, we must have the courage to face the reality that our movement is currently under severe strain.

 We must be honest enough to recognise that disunity, mistrust, ideological incoherence and organisational weakness is undermining our ability to address the challenges that confront our people.

 Building the unity of the ANC and the Alliance is therefore the most important and urgent task of the moment.

 In the January 8th Statement, which the President presented to the nation last week, the ANC National Executive Committee notes that the organisation is confronted by divisive practices.

 At all levels of the organisation, in our leagues and even among some components of the Alliance, leadership contests are accompanied by practices such gatekeeping, vote buying, electoral fraud and even violence.

 We must face the reality that much of the factionalism in our movement is rooted in a competition for access to resources.

 We must acknowledge here that there are instances where internal ANC processes have been infiltrated by individuals and companies seeking preferential access to state business.

 Often, people are recruited to the ANC not to build the organisation, but to provide votes to one or another faction.

 Like Oliver Tambo did, the leaders of our movement must be disciplined and act at all times to promote unity.

 Many of the divisions that currently exist in our movement are divisions among leaders, not divisions among members.

 These are divisions not based on ideological or political differences.

 They are not based on disagreements over strategy or policy.

 These are divisions that are fuelled by a relentless competition for positions, influence and control over resources.

 This is the reality that we are determined to change.

 We are dedicating this year, 2017, to correcting the many mistakes that we have made, to ending the deviant practices that are slowly destroying our organisation.

 We need to make the act of joining the ANC a more meaningful and valued process.

 Members of the ANC must feel on their shoulders the burden of responsibility.

 Like Oliver Tambo, they must understand that they have been entrusted with the future of the movement and with the successful prosecution of the struggle of our people.

 Each one of us must understand ourselves to be the glue that holds this organisation together.

 The January 8th Statement provides us with a plan of action to unite and rebuild the movement.

 We need to insulate state procurement processes from political interference.

 We need to strengthen internal processes for managing potential conflicts of interest and alleged criminal conduct and ethical breaches.

 At the same time, we need to embrace the concept of revolutionary discipline as understood and practiced by Oliver Tambo.

 He did not understood discipline as primarily a matter of rules, regulations and sanction.

 For him, discipline was the product of a deliberate political decision by an individual to dedicate their capabilities, resources and energy to the achievement of the aims of the movement.

 For him, discipline was a consequence of the decision of an individual to join the African National Congress.

 Discipline does not earn praise. It does not bring personal reward.

 It is about working hard and placing the interests of the people above one’s own interests.

 It is about fighting factionalism, resisting corruption, safeguarding public resources.

 This is the year in which we must make decisive progress in the growth and transformation of our economy.

 We know that we will not create the jobs our people seek unless we grow the economy.

 That is why we are intensifying our industrial incentive programmes, establishing special economic zones and investing in infrastructure.

In the Eastern Cape, for example, these measures are contributing to the sustainability and expansion of the auto industry.

 They are resulting in significant new investments in the Coega Industrial Development Zone.

 In the next few years, significant investment in the region’s transport and water infrastructure will bring extensive economic benefits.

We know that we will not create the jobs our people seek unless weimprove the skills and capabilities of our youth.

 We wish to congratulate the Eastern Cape’s 2016 matriculants for having recorded a 2.5% improvement in the overall pass rate.

 While there has been progress, we must acknowledge that we are still falling far short of the province’s potential.

 We welcome the efforts of the Eastern Cape provincial government to prioritise assistance to struggling schools, improving school management, developing and maintaining school infrastructure, and addressing the shortage of teachers.

 In 2017, we need to dedicate resources and energy to the most challenged schools to ensure all learners in the province receive the quality education they deserve.

 This province is home to prestigious educational institutions like Lovedale College and the University of Fort Hare, institutions that played a leading role in shaping generations of African leaders.

 Today, the various higher education institutions in the province – including this one – are shaping a new generation of African leaders, academics, artisans and professionals.

 They are following in the footsteps of Oliver Tambo, a dedicated teacher and a lifelong champion of the value of education.

 In honouring his memory, we will work this year to expand access to quality higher education to more South Africans from poor communities.

 Through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, government will be funding more than 400,000 students at universities and TVET colleges this year.

 We will continue to engage with institutions, students and other stakeholders on how to address the funding challenges in higher education in a sustainable manner.

The January 8th Statement says that it is time to return the land to our people.

 Our land reform and land redistribution programmes have shown measurable success.

 However, too many of our people continue to suffer from the historic injustice of land dispossession.

This year, we will use the Expropriation of Land Act to pursue land reform and land redistribution with greater speed and urgency.

 We call on communities and traditional leaders to work together with government to speedily resolve land claims.

 We need to work together to ensure that land is ultimately used for the benefit of communities and to build local economies.

 This year, we will continue to work together to promote local economic development, particularly in centres like Mthatha where there is great potential for localisation and empowerment.

 We will continue to create opportunities through the Expanded Public Works Programme, with an emphasis on work experience and skills for women and young people.

 We will not be able to build a better life for our people unless we can mobilise society as a whole to tackle the challenges we face.

 Oliver Tambo was excellent at building alliances.

 It was thanks to his alliance-building efforts that the anti-apartheid movement led one of the largest and most effective global campaigns of the 20th century.

 Like him, we must work to mobilise different groupings around commonprogrammes for change and development.

 We must build alliances with formations across the length and breadth of South Africa in pursuit of our goal of radical economic transformation.

 We must build alliances within communities to advance development.

 We must build alliances with fraternal parties and social formations across Africa to pursue the growth and development of our continent.

 We must build alliances with other countries, with political parties, with international organisations and leading global figures in our effort to build a better, more just and more equitable world.

 In 2017, we must deepen our efforts to build a non-racial and non-sexist society.

 Throughout his life, Oliver Tambo fought to tear down the barriers of prejudice, ignorance and injustice.

 He was unreservedly committed to the emancipation of women.

 He challenged patriarchy in all its forms, both within society and within the liberation movement.

 He understood that the achievement of gender equality was a responsibility of both men and women.

 Tambo was determined that the ANC should be a truly non-racial organisation.

 He sought to create a country where there will be neither whites nor blacks, just South Africans, free and united in diversity.

 We must dedicate ourselves to tackling discrimination and oppression in whatever form it takes, whether in the home, in the workplace, in the institutions of state, or on social media.

 We need to ensure that we respect, uphold and restore the dignity of all our people.

 Let me conclude with the words that Madiba spoke as he said farewell to his life-long comrade, Oliver Tambo.

He said:

 “Go well, my brother and farewell, dear friend.

 As you instructed, we will bring peace to our tormented land.

 As you directed, we will bring freedom to the oppressed and liberation to the oppressor.

 As you strived, we will restore the dignity of the dehumanised.

 As you commanded, we will defend the option of a peaceful resolution of our problems.

 As you prayed, we will respond to the cries of the wretched of the earth.

 As you loved them, we will, always, stretch out a hand of endearment to those who are your flesh and blood.

 In all this, we will not fail you.”

 As we begin 2017, let us declare here that we will not fail OR Tambo.

 Let us declare that we will strive to build the free, just and prosperous society of which he dreamed.

 Let us declare that we will unite, restore and renew the glorious movement to which he dedicated his life.

 Let us work to ensure that ANC lives and the ANC leads.

Cde. Cyril Ramaphosa is ANC Deputy President.

-This is taken from an address given at the Eastern Cape ANC 105th anniversary celebrations in Mthatha

 

ANC UNITY THE CORNERSTONE OF SA’S DEVELOPMENT

CDE. JESSIE DUARTE

Speaking at the opening of the first conference of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in Addis Ababa in 1963, the legendary Ghanaian statesman Kwame Nkrumah reminded representatives of the African postcolonial movements that attaining freedom was only the first step towards liberation.

Nkrumah noted:

“The struggle against colonialism does not end with the attainment of national independence. Independence is only the prelude to a new and more involved struggle for the right to conduct our own economic and social affairs; to construct our society according to our aspirations, unhampered by crushing and humiliating neo-colonialist controls and interference.”

In the year that Africa’s oldest liberation movement, the African National Congress (ANC) marks 105 years since its founding in Mangaung – his words ring true today as they did back then.

As the development of the country has not followed a straight, linear trajectory but has experienced peaks as well as troughs, so too has the ANC

The task before us as we enter another year as the leader of society is to reclaim lost ground following a number of challenges and setbacks – and in this regard, party unity will be paramount.

It is for this reason the ANC has chosen Unity in Action as one of the key themes of the party’s 105th birthday celebrations. The reality is that a weak, divided ANC is bad for the country, and a strong, united ANC bodes well for the future of South Africa.

Ever since the delivery of the very first January 8th statement was delivered by ANC President Oliver Reginald Tambo in 1972, the ANC has used the occasion to highlight progress in the quest for political, social and economic emancipation of our people. Furthermore, it is an opportunity to outline the ANC’s priorities for the year ahead.

This year’s celebrations are taking place following the 2016 municipal elections wherein the ANC won the majority of the vote nationally but experienced a number of electoral setbacks in certain key areas.

As an organization attuned to the concerns of the country’s citizens, we are acutely aware that dissatisfaction with the progress in the fight against crime, corruption and the creation of jobs undoubtedly played a role in the electoral outcome. We also did ourselves no favours when internal party battles played out in the public space on the eve of the polls. This dented citizens’ confidence in the ANC and it is imperative that we reclaim lost ground as a matter of urgency.

We are alive to the challenges we face, and do not make light of them. However, these need to be contextualized within a socio-political context where the governing party still faces an enormous uphill battle of undoing the legacy of centuries of dispossession and discrimination that relegated the majority of our people to the periphery of the country’s development.

As we mark the founding of the ANC, we have made a call for the rejuvenation of our movement and a return to the core values upon which the party was founded. It is only through returning to these founding values that we will be able to realize the aspirations of our people towards a South Africa that is united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous.

As Nkrumah noted however, ‘no sporadic act nor pious resolution can solve our present problems’, and we need to be ever vigilant that the pitfalls we are facing as a movement do not sink us, or cause us to fall prey to the malaise of political complacency.

To advance our programme of societal transformation we have to listen to the voices of the people, and act to resolve their concerns.

Only a united party can achieve this.

In this year ahead, the ANC commits itself to rebuilding the trust of the electorate, and re-asserting our place as the leader of all progressive forces who yearn for radical socio-economic change.

Saluting delegates to the Fourth Congress of Frelimo in Maputo in 1985, then ANC President OR Tambo said:

“You have had your difficulties, but also your triumphs in tackling the twin scourges of our continent, namely underdevelopment and neocolonialism.”

“You have embarked upon building a single nation, with a strong common patriotism and a vigorous cultural personality, out of a population formerly divided by racism, regionalism and tribalism. You have built up your Party and created new organs of People’s Power..”

The ANC too has had its difficulties, but let us not underestimate or neglect our triumphs.

The ANC, the party of Tambo, of Mandela, of Mbeki, of Sisulu, and of Zuma has also succeeded in building a single nation out of a divided population.

As we mark 105 years since the ANC’s founding, it is necessary to reflect on our challenges, yes, but at the same time let us never lose sight of just how far we have come.

Cde. Jessie Duarte is ANC Deputy Secretary-General.

FORWARD WITH UNITY IN ACTION!

CDE. WELILE NHLAPO

As we celebrate the 105th anniversary of the African National Congress, the National Executive Committee, correctly declared 2017 as the year of Unity in Action.

During this year we will also celebrate the centenary of the birth of our revered leader, Oliver Reginald Tambo. He was the glue that kept the ANC as a united disciplined revolutionary movement under the most challenging times in the history of our struggle.

It is indeed in true African tradition and practice that in difficult times we summon the spirits of our ancestors to help us navigate through what might seem to be insurmountable problems haunting us as the living. In doing this we seek to emulate the best qualities bequeathed to us by those who led us through stormy weathers in their lifetime.

The combination of the clarion call for the 105th celebration of the birth of our movement and the centenary of the birth of Comrade OR affords us the opportunity for deep reflection and introspection.

We can’t escape posing the question as to whether we are still on cause in our stewardship of the National Democratic Revolution. We also have to honestly and frankly answer painful questions related to whether we still have the mantle to deliver on the aspirations and expectations of the embattled masses of our people?

We somehow in the decisions taken in the last NEC meeting mapped out activities which will help us begin to answer the question; what is to be done to act in unity to restore the glory of the ANC that OR handed over to us intact and pleaded with us to look after it.

The NEC correctly decided that we should organize an MKVA conference which should result in uniting ex MK combatants primarily to take care of the challenges they face and to contribute towards efforts to unite our movement.

The revitalization and strengthening of Veterans League as the reservoir of political and organizational experience to embolden our long stated goal of organizational renewal is welcomed.

The league can also contribute immensely towards political education of our membership on the history, traditions and values that made the ANC survive this long. The convening of a conference of the Veterans League is an important, strategic and timely development.

When the movement under the leadership of Comrade OR averted crises and consolidated efforts to intensify the struggle, we convened in Morogoro and Kabwe, closed ranks and charted the path that led to the freedom of our people.

Let the envisaged National Consultative Conference help us deal with organizational matters that will help us consolidate our unity of purpose as the entire revolutionary alliance led by the ANC.

History beacons on us to march in unison as a united political army to deliver on a policy conference that guarantees certainty on the future of our country. We have the tools and previous decisions and resolutions of policy conferences, NGCs and elective conferences to guide us to a successful elective conference in December.

Let us take leaf from the volumes of lessons from the life of this unifier, thinker, strategist, his exemplary revolutionary morality, personal conduct, diplomat, pan Africanist, internationalist and above all an inspirational fighter for freedom which every cadre of our movement must aspire to be.

Long live the undying spirit of Comrade President Oliver Tambo!!! Long live the revolutionary alliance led by the ANC!!!

Happy 105th anniversary of ANC!!!

FORWARD WITH THE YEAR OF UNITY IN ACTION!!!

Cde. Welile Nhlapo was formerly South Africa’s ambassador to the US. A career diplomat, he was the ANC’s Chief Representative in Botswana and Head of the Political Section in the ANC Secretary-General’s office.

ANC SALUTES THE LIFE OF EL-COMMANDANTE FIDEL CASTRO

GWEDE MANTASHE

The African National Congress lowers its revolutionary banner in mourning, having learnt of the passing of El Commandante en Jefe Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz, a giant amongst revolutionaries, a friend of the African people, Leader of the Cuban Revolution and former President of the Republic of Cuba.

On behalf of all freedom loving peoples of South Africa, the ANC sends its deepest condolences to the people of the great Republic of Cuba.

The ANC collectively mourns with the countless revolutionary movements of the Global South, for whom the legendary leader was a tireless supporter, ally and friend.

It was the great Russian revolutionary Georgi Valentinovich Plekhanov, widely regarded as the founder of Russian Marxism who said in his seminal essay “The Role of the individual in History” – “a great man is not great because his personal qualities give individual features to great historical events, but because he possesses qualities which make him most capable of serving the great social needs of his time”

A true internationalist, El Commandante Fidel Castro’s philosophy was premised on the radical idea that those whom Fanon called ‘the wretched of the earth’ had the right to eat regularly, have quality homes, be granted access to free quality education and quality medical care.

In essence, Castro believed that the poor had a right to lives of dignity. For these ideas and policies, he earned the unabashed hostility from the global neoliberal elites and self-appointed controllers of the world.

The imperialist Western nations, working together with reactionary and racist Cuban elites and their media propagandists correctly saw in him a formidable foe who wanted to end their greed, fragmentation, financial and moral corruption and bullying.

Castro had a true sense of service to his people. He did not outsource his historic responsibility to corporate profiteers. He understood the saying that rapacious capital is not in the business of nation building.

The importance of Castro in the history of the post-colonial world is monumental because he won the real battle of developing a small island against imperialist domination.

Comrade Fidel joins the global pantheon of revolutionary leaders who have passed from this life having left an indelible mark not on just their nation’s history, but the history of the world.

For everyone committed to the ideals of equality, of social justice, of freedom, of the universal brotherhood of man – today is the saddest of days.

We have lost a man who dedicated his life to the betterment of his fellow man, and stood firm in the face of oppression to lead his people to freedom. Under the leadership of Comrade Fidel the living standards of the Cuban people were vastly improved, millions of young Cubans were educated and skilled, illiteracy was eradicated, and not only was public health care improved, but it became the envy of developing countries worldwide. Despite healthcare spending per capita being 1/20th the size of the US, life expectancy at birth in Cuba is about the same as that of the US.

The Cuban revolution was an inspiration to all nations suffering under the anti-imperialist yoke, and under the leadership of Compañero Fidel, the Communist Party of Cuba and the Cuban people were among the strongest supporters of South Africa’s struggle for liberation; lending various forms of material and political support to the liberation forces during the dark days of apartheid.

The life of Compañero Fidel is illustrative of the qualities of exemplary leadership – of putting country before self. In pursuit of the common good, he was undaunted and unafraid in the face of huge forces of resistance. He knew, and said: “A revolution is not a bed of roses. A revolution is a struggle between the future and the past.

We who strive for another world will continue to defend Castro from oppressors of men. We will not forget his love the for downtrodden of his land and world over; his faith in humanity and its potential and hope for a better world which he began to build.

The ANC will not forget you El Commandante and we will keep the spirit of your ideas live, until we are all free. In his memory and honour, the African National Congress  today affirms our unwavering commitment to the struggle for our people’s emancipation, and to supporting the people of Cuba in retaining their right to self-determination at a time when the forces of globalization threaten to derail the gains of the Cuban revolution.

Comrade Castro was a symbol of revolutionary virtue and personal sacrifice and with his life gave full meaning to the spirit of internationalism. He will be sorely missed. We will forever salute this outstanding revolutionary, and make the call as did Che Guevara, Hasta La Victoria Siempre.

COMRADE GWEDE MANTASHE IS ANC SECRETARY-GENERAL

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RADICAL ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT OF WOMEN IS KEY IN CURBING VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN & CHILDREN

MEOKGO MATUBA

 Annually the African National Congress Women’s League (ANCWL) and the ANC-led government, through the Department of Women, run a successful campaign in pursuit of curbing violence on women and children as espoused in the fundamental principles of the movement of a non-violent, non-sexist and a prosperous South Africa.

Since 1998, South Africa embarks on the 16 Days campaign against violence on women and children that commences today, the 25th of November and ends on the10th of December.

The 16 Days of Activism against gender based violence, which marks the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of violence against women, is the Human Rights Day. This period also includes Universal Children’s Day and World AIDS Day respectively. The campaign, therefore, remains an essential tool in creating awareness on the negative impacts of violence on women and children.

The ANCWL has noted that violence against women and children is still rife in South Africa.  This violence against women takes different forms, namely; physical violence in the form of domestic violence, terrible violent crimes such as murder, robbery, rape and assault in the survivor’s homes and in society and the rape culture in institutions of higher learning and schools against young women and girl children.

While the ANC-run government works tirelessly to eradicate inequality and poverty, we note that the terrible brunt on our democracy is the violence of poverty, starvation, humiliation and degradation, especially against women and children. Poverty, inequality and unemployment are conditions under which violence thrives.

According to the 2015/2016 crime statistics released the by Minister of Police, Comrade Nkosinathi Nhleko, earlier in the year, there is a decline in violent crimes but for us, one incident of crime is one too many. The victims of violence are human beings and at the most violence directly and indirectly affects women and children more than it does men.  For instance, violent crimes such as murder destabilises families since children are left as orphans with lifelong psychological scars.  Again, the majority of sexual offenses perpetrators are men than women.

As much as the ANCWL appreciates the gradual decrease in crime against women & children, it is our firm belief that more needs to be done in relation to sex crimes, which includes sexual assault and rape. On sexual violence, statistics indicates that Gauteng had 9510 cases, KZN 8947, Eastern Cape 8797, Western Cape 7130, Limpopo 4369, North-West 4164, Free-State 3928, Mpumalanga 3331 and Northern Cape 1719. In total there were 51895 reported cases. These are not just numbers but there are human being and especially vulnerable women and children behind each and every number.

When we take into consideration the fact that statistics are not an accurate reflection on the number of sexual violent instances because it is only based on reported cases and it is common knowledge that there are survivors who do not report rape and assault cases due to various reasons ranging from safety, economic reasons etc. we, in the ANCWL remain concerned because crime statistics tell us that while we conduct successful campaigns yearly, we need to intensify the fight in curbing the culture of violence against women and children.

As the ANCWL launched the campaign this week, the aim is to mobilise society into acknowledging that violence against women and children is not a government or a criminal justice system problem, but a societal problem, and that failure to view it as such, results in all efforts failing to eradicate this scourge in our communities.

Violence against women and children is one of the most egregious and persistent violations of human rights, affecting victims across race, gender and age. This societal ill is a symptom of gender inequalities which are pervasive socially, in politics and in the economic mainstream. Women perform 66% of the work worldwide and produce 60% of its food, yet they earn 10% of the income and own 1% world’s property.

The ANCWL is adamant that radical economic transformation of women will curb violence against women and children. Gender gaps in the economic mainstream need to be tackled with vigour and the urgency it deserves as economically disempowered women are vulnerable to gender based violence.  Women need to be economically empowered to gain their confidence and independence respectively.

As a country we need to focus our energies on strategies for empowering women economically to afford them greater autonomy in securing livelihoods through traditional employment and self-employment.  Women empowerment has proven to yield great results in families and society at large.

Women cannot stand in the side-lines and watch the gains of our democracy regress. We, being in majority in country’s population, will continue to take up our role to influence, mobilise and fight for economic emancipation of women thus curbing violent crimes against women and children. We must move together towards a violence free South Africa.

The ANCWL calls on men, young men and boys, in all their formations and in society at large to join the fight against violence on women and children. While the campaign is marked for only 16 days, the deeply entrenched scourge dictates that everyday becomes a day to make progress our fight to emancipate, first and foremost women economically and thereby curbing gender based violence perpetuated mainly by inequality and poverty.

It is the responsibility of all members of our society to ensure that the rights of women are respected as equal citizens. That responsibility cannot be relegated to women alone.

CDE MEOKGO MATUBA IS THE SECRETARY GENERAL OF THE ANCWL

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DIGITAL MIGRATION REVOLUTION

faithmFAITH MUTHAMBI

 Technological innovation is a key component of the 4th Industrial Revolution, as noted by the World Economic Forum (WEF) in their analysis paper published earlier this year. The scale, scope and complexity of this technological revolution, as the WEF notes ‘is characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital and biological spheres,’ and ‘will be unlike anything humankind has experienced before.’

Successive policy conferences of the governing party, the African National Congress (ANC), have affirmed the need to harness the power of technological innovation in anticipation of the 4th Industrial Revolution. It is a brave new digital world where billions of people are interconnected: making it possible for them to access information, goods and services like never before.

The delivery of content through this increased interconnectivity is inextricably linked to socio-economic development, increased living standards and financial growth.

And in an age where Knowledge is Power, that interconnectivity can be a key driver of a country’s development goes without saying: for with the ‘democratization’ of the digital space comes the ability for messages and programmes to be delivered to millions of people, whereas in the past it was only a select few.  The digital media experience, through Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) is upon us.

Government’s Digital Migration Policy, the result of an extensive policy formulation process driven by the ANC’s led government is being implemented, and promises to fundamentally transform the local broadcasting landscape for the better, in order to meet the needs and aspirations of all South Africans.

DTT will enable all communities to access news and information. It will lead to a new reality where all communities have access to quality programming and exposure to a multiplicity and plurality of voices: and not just the fortunate few.

The ANC has consistently affirmed the need to bring all communities into the knowledge economy, to address a grim legacy of marginalization of whole communities, cultures and ethnic groups on the basis of exclusionary language policies.

In other instances certain cultures were elevated above others in the broadcasting spaces and held up as ‘civilized’ whilst others were either not reflected at all or portrayed through the ugly prism of stereotyping.

The advent of DTT will more than ever open a window into nooks and crannies of South Africa that we have never seen on our screens before: with compelling, localized content production ensuring that our nation is reflected in all its diversity.

Earlier this month we reached a significant milestone with the inaugural Television Broadcasting Analogue Switch-off (ASO).

The implementation of this project will allow us to unleash the endless potential of South Africa’s ICT infrastructure in support of the objectives of the National Development Plan (NDP).

The NDP infrastructure development agenda calls for efficient information platforms that promote economic growth and greater inclusion. It further calls for stronger broadband and telecommunications networks that are affordable to all.

What is often overlooked is radio frequency spectrum.  In simple terms radio frequency spectrum is a limited natural resource available equally in every country to the benefit all of its citizens.

Radio spectrum availability contributes to the unassailable performance of television, internet connectivity, cellular phone and radio astronomy services and creates a conducive environment for competing frequencies to co-exist.

What we have achieved with our switch on is the dream of all countries across the globe “to achieve the broadcasting digital migration implementation process”.

This major step demonstrates the capability of the ANC government to deliver projects of international magnitude.

It is also laying the foundations for the successful implementation of a programme that will benefit communities and various sectors of the economy.

The advent of digital broadcasting will transform and reshape the dominant public narrative: as more people, including those in rural areas, have easy access to mainstream current affairs conversations.

The public broadcaster, the SABC will have scope to offer more informative channels that will expose the youth and women in particular to a range of content from skills acquisition to research and ICT literacy.

The ANC government views Digital Migration as a powerful tool to promote the usage and universal access to information and communication technologies even in rural areas.

The Broadcasting Digital Migration Warriors who have taken us to these heights of connecting households in the five towns in the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) should be lauded for having aided in us reaching this milestone.

These five towns are proud beacons of new hope, and should rightly be viewed as the pioneers of this exciting new technology.

Many of these communities are already saying the switch-on has revolutionised their lives.

Through our collective efforts and wisdom, we are determined to ensure that the broadcasting digital migration rollout process becomes a success.

We are now moving to borderline provinces around the country and appeal to all our stakeholders to continue their valuable support.

We share a common vision: to rescue our country and our people from the quicksand of despair to the solid rock of Digital Migration in our lifetime.

We will be announcing the switch-off date for the entire country soon. #GoDigitalZA

CDE FAITH MUTHAMBI IS A MEMBER OF THE ANC PROVINCIAL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE IN LIMPOPO AND MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS

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OUR VISION REMAINS OF A NON-RACIAL, UNITED SOUTH AFRICA

jjeffereyJOHN JEFFERY

Earlier this year, Cde Gwede Mantashe, our Secretary-General said:

In this march for unity, non-racialism and democracy, we stand on the shoulders of giants who over centuries of subjugation and oppression, committed their lives to the building of a South Africa that would be united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous in character. We reaffirm the clarion call made by our people at the Congress of the People in Kliptown in 1955 that “South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white” and that “our country will never be prosperous or free until all our people live in brotherhood, enjoying equal rights and opportunities.”

Many freedom fighters, young and old, black and white, laid down their lives for the realisation of the vision where in South Africa no man or woman would be discriminated against on the basis of their race, gender or creed.

We live in a world which seems to be becoming more and more intolerant.

Instead of celebrating the fact that we are all different and unique human beings, instead of being united in our diversity as our Constitution champions, many in our country seem to focus on what divide us.

We seem to be a long way away from those proud days as a country where we were acknowledged by the rest of the world as the Rainbow Nation.

For example, the South African Human Rights Commission recently stated that 68% of equality complaints received by the Commission in the period 1st April 2015 to 29th February 2016 have been on the basis of race.

In the recent past we have seen an increasing number of incidents of racism, racial intolerance and attacks on foreign nationals. In June we read that protestors had torched a mosque in Giyani in Limpopo. We have seen a number of violent attacks on gay people and the so-called “corrective rape” of lesbians.

The ANC-led government has responded to many of these evils in a multi-faceted way – for example, we have established Equality Courts which hear, among others, discrimination cases, we have addressed attacks on foreign nationals at the highest level by creating various Inter-Ministerial Committees, as well as structures on the grounds to prevent attacks and assist foreign nationals. We have established a National Task Team which focuses on the prevention of violence and discrimination against at our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and intersex (LGBTI) persons.

But more needs to be done on the side of legislation, as our current laws do not seem adequate to address forms of hate that our country is now experiencing.

In the latest incident before our Constitutional Court, Jacobus Kruger, an employee of SARS, had racially insulted his manager Abel Mboweni . He said: “I don’t understand how kaffirs think. A kaffir must not tell me what to do.”  Kruger pleaded guilty at a disciplinary hearing and was given a final written warning and placed on suspension without pay. In 2007 this decision was reversed and he was dismissed. Kruger then challenged his dismissal at the Commission for Conciliation‚ Mediation and Arbitration and was reinstated. The matter went on to the Labour Court and the Labour Appeal Court and then ended up in the Constitutional Court.

The Constitutional Court upheld SARS’ appeal‚ saying the seriousness of Kruger’s racist remarks cannot be overlooked by the courts in a country still fighting the scourge of racism. The Chief Justice said the use of the word “kaffir” had great historical significance in South Africa and was used previously to dehumanise black people. The Chief Justice says in paragraph 7 of the judgment that: “Calling an African a ‘kaffir’ thirteen years deep into our constitutional democracy, as happened here, does in itself make a compelling case for all of us to begin to engage in an earnest and ongoing dialogue in pursuit of strategies for a lasting solution to the bane of our peaceful co-existence that racism has continued to be. The duty to eradicate racism and its tendencies has become all the more apparent, essential and urgent now. For this reason, nothing that threatens to take us back to our racist past should be glossed over, accommodated or excused.”

President Zuma in his report at the ANC’s National General Council in October last year said:

“Informed by the Freedom Charter and the Constitution, the ANC has succeeded in building a nation which recognises the freedoms, equality and rights of all regardless of race, colour, creed or sexual orientation. Guided by the Constitution we continue to build a society that is totally free of racism. We should thus remain vigilant and fight any attempt to resurrect the demon of racism from the apartheid grave and to glorify a system of government that was declared a crime against humanity.”

A new Bill called the Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill has been put out for public comment.   The Bill creates the offences of hate crimes and hate speech and seeks to put in place measures to prevent and combat these offences.

The Bill initially excluded hate speech and the criminalisation of unfair discrimination from the ambit of the Bill because of the sensitivities and complexities involved, particularly in a multi-cultural country such as ours.  It was also argued that there is already a civil remedy for hate speech and unfair discrimination, as contained in the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act.

However, the events we have been witnessing recently highlighted the need to include hate speech, as a criminal offence, in the Bill.  The Bill has thus been adapted to include hate speech.

But what, exactly, is a hate crime?

For example, a hate crime is committed if a person commits any recognised offence, and the commission of that offence is motivated by unlawful bias, prejudice or intolerance – so if you throw a brick at a mosque you can be charged with malicious injury to property.  However if the State can prove that you threw the brick because you don’t like Muslims, it becomes a hate crime.

The prejudice, bias or intolerance towards the victim of the hate crime would be because of one or more of the following characteristics, or perceived characteristics, of the victim or the victim’s next of kin: Race, gender, sex, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, religion, belief, culture, language, birth, HIV status, nationality, gender identity, intersex, albinism and occupation or trade.

Nationality, gender identity, HIV status, albinism, intersex and occupation or trade are not mentioned in section 9(3) of our Constitution – but it has been argued that they should be included in the Bill because of the hate crimes that have been committed on the basis of these grounds.

The Bill also criminalises any conduct which amounts to an attempt, incitement, instigation and conspiracy to commit a hate crime.

Clause 5 of the Bill creates an offence of hate speech.  Laws against hate speech serve a dual purpose. It protects the rights of the victim and the target group and also ensures that society is informed that hate speech is neither tolerated, nor sanctioned.

Some commentators have said that the Bill will infringe the right to freedom of speech.  The Bill is not intended to  stifle or suppress freedom of speech or expression.  However, the right to freedom of speech is not absolute and must be balanced, in the same way that all constitutional rights are balanced. No rights are unlimited.

The Bill provides that any person who – by any means whatsoever, in public – intentionally advocates hatred of any other person, or group of persons, based on the same grounds as listed in the Bill in a way that incites others to harm such person or group of persons, whether or not such person or group of persons is harmed, is guilty of the offence of hate speech.

Harm is defined to include damage to property – in other words, economic harm – in addition to physical harm.  It also includes “mental or psychological” harm.  The reference to harm is in line with section 16(2) of the Constitution.

Because of the sensitive and often complex nature of cases of this nature, clause 5 also requires the relevant Provincial Head of Prosecutions to authorise any prosecution in writing.

The opinion is held that the phrase “by any means whatsoever” will include all forms of communication, whether by statement, broadcast, advertisement, SMS, WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook, photograph or Instagram, among others. This is particularly important since many of the hate speech incidents stem from social media.

The Bill was approved by Cabinet for public comment on 19 October 2016 and may be accessed on the departmental website: www.justice.gov.za.

We are hoping that all our structures, in the branches and the regions, will familiarize themselves with the Bill and let us have their views.

Inkosi Albert Luthuli, in 1961, said – “Our vision has always been that of a non-racial democratic South  Africa  which  upholds  the  rights  of  all  who live in our country to remain there as full citizens with equal rights and responsibilities with all others.”

We all have equal rights, regardless of our race, sex, gender, sexual orientation, religion, language, culture and so forth. People ask me whether I believe that people who are racist or xenophobic or homophobic (or, for that matter, prejudicial in any other way) will now, all of a sudden, have a change of heart just because there is an anti-hate law on the statute book.

Perhaps some of these people will change, perhaps they will not. But at least government will have sent a message, loud and clear, that discrimination, hate crimes and hate speech will not be tolerated. A society based on hate is not the society we fought for.

Significant progress has been made over two decades of freedom – yet there is still much more to be done.  There are still, currently, challenges that we need to face. South African society remains divided. Many schools, suburbs and places of worship are integrated, but many are not.

This year we celebrate the 20th Anniversary of our Constitution. We must consider whether we have moved towards the goals of that Constitution or whether we are drifting away from it. We are confident that the new Bill will be advance the vision and ideals of our Constitution.

CDE JOHN JEFFERY IS THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF JUSTICE AND CONSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT

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DONALD TRUMP AND THE RADICAL SHIFT IN THE GLOBAL POLITICAL FRAMEWORK: SOME LESSONS FOR THE ANC

zukoZUKO GODLIMPI

In historical terms, Donald Trump’s victory was actually produced by the same objective circumstances that catapulted Barrack Obama into power eight years ago, despite the fact that the two political figures represent different social values.

The victories of Obama and Trump respectively constitute competing extremes of the same changing global political framework that is conditioned by the historic economic and social impact of the 2008 global recession. South Africa, as I will later argue, has for at least the past twelve years also been impacted upon by these changes in the global political framework.

The few years in the run up to 2008 saw a build up to the Global Recession. The world witnessed a sharp decline in industrial economic productivity, growing inflation, falling real income, rising inequality and disillusionment with the ruling political elites.

The collapse of the global financial system, originating in the United States and continental Europe, cemented the radical critique against global capitalism and its financial tentacles. In that dramatic collapse of the credibility of the global system and how its elites wielded State power, the stage was set for Obama to be born.

He was black, confident and came from outside the political establishment whose existence is embedded in the capitalist power structure responsible for the generalized and growing misery of an increasing number of Americans and everyone else in the world.

In 2008 Obama brought a refreshing idealism of hope: the hour of yes we can! He personified a historic symbolism that promised reconfigured race relations and the forcing of racist ideology to retreat. Americans seemed to vote against the moral bankruptcy of the political elite that drove the world to an economic collapse as well as to vote for an idealism that promised to bind all Americans towards a new humanism.

“We reject the bankers whilst embracing humane approaches to banking and finance,” seemed to be part of the new idealism.

Eight years later, America is battling to extricate itself from the pit of that industrial decline, slow economic growth and a rising costs of living. In similar manner to everywhere else in the world, the American working and middle classes continue experience declining standards of living, rising unemployment, a rising student debt crisis and other economic constraints that threaten social upwards mobility.

This material crisis has successfully eroded the effect of the Obama idealism, as its attractive value system cannot reverse the social desperation that is on the rise.

In that moment of historical crisis, Donald Trump emerges on a campaign platform centered on an imprecise “make America great again” slogan, whose major rallying point is also a promise of ‘change’ against an evidently failing polity that has not successfully transformed the material conditions of the average American person, eight years after Obama’s first election.

Trump advertised as an unapologetic bigot with uncompromising rightwing politics whose fiery rhetoric spells hell for black people, immigrants, the LGBTI community etc. who are blamed for virtually every development challenge of the US. He is a billionaire, confident about his power, comes from outside the political establishment and readily reminds people that he is actually not a politician.

In the scope of the Trump rightwing idealism, “unemployment is the fault of immigrants who steal jobs, therefore build a wall between the US and Mexico! The economy is de-industrializing because the Democrats are too weak to handle big business; I have money I’m not scared of the rich, they’re scared of me! America is not great because it allows gay marriages and abortion! America is losing international respect and therefore economic opportunity because the black President is weak and Hilary is a nasty woman!” The list of irrational but powerful invectives is long.

The decline in economic standards is an objective reality. The failure of the political establishment to respond effectively to these has for sometime bred social fragmentation and a loss of political credibility across the board. In that vacuum Trump effectively mobilized frustrated and bigoted Americans, mostly white, sentiment and channeled it into a powerful, even if unsustainable, electoral agenda.

In ironically similar manner to Obama, Trump, is the rallying point of an entrenched sense of economic, social and political disillusionment. But differently to Obama, in capitalizing on this social discontent, he fashions an idealism that bargains on crude American nationalism whose mainstay is aggression and the mobilization of backward values to justify its existence (homophobia, sexism, racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, constant insults to the political establishment etc.).

Obama, who benefited from socio-economic and political frustrations in 2008, has been rejected by the same trend because its sense of hope is now articulated towards a different direction. He came out in support of Hilary but couldn’t sidestep the gravitational pull of economic strain. That Hilary Clinton is a woman and thus her victory would have represented a forward march in the evolution of America’s political identity, to effect an erosion of the masculinity of power, was overtaken by a different social anxiety; economic decline that has remobilized bigoted scapegoating.

In similar fashion, the successful referendum for Britain to exit the European Union was canvassed by rightwing political formations like the UKIP and Conservatives like Boris Johnson on anti-immigrant sentiments. Economic decline, rising unemployment and unconvincing responses by leadership set the ball rolling for xenophobic English nationalism to triumph.

Here at home, in the ANC, the dramatic removal of President Mbeki was practically centered on similar patterns at the start of the Global Recession; a democratic transition that was slow in shifting wealth structures to black people, jobless economic growth, stagnant wages and cries of a bullish behavior in how power was being wielded to victimize political opponents by an arrogant political elite etc.

His grand idealism of an African Renaissance came crashing as inequality and industrial economic decline spawned ground resentment. An alienating sense of an elite pact that limited economic transformation to an inner circle of comrades, through BEE deals, accentuated the fallout.

In Polokwane, the stage was set for the election of a people-centered leadership, centered around the figure of President Jacob Zuma, with promises of a ‘leftward shift’ in economic policy and a broadly democratic approach to state power and the alliance. The promise was to transform economic relations in favor of the black working class. A new economic idealism was born.

Ten years later, South Africa is experiencing similar gravitations towards the pre-Polokwane moment. The decline in real income, increasing inequality, rising costs of living and economic power structures centered in white and black elite networks are all persistent. Similar protestations over the abuse of state institutions for political witch hunts, crony-capitalist practices in the state, etc. have once again become central to our discourse.

The difference is that the ANC is heavily being contested as the rallying point of the radical voices that articulate this social discontent and the search for urgent economic reform and transformation of state power.

The increasing radicalization of the black middle class on race relations, rising vigilance around questions of corruption, binding concerns for things like Free Education, the prominence of radical politics and the rise of crude populist figures etc. all of which are now directed against President Zuma, the erstwhile rallying point of similar discontent, also betrays a ten year cycle that has not effectively delivered the economic and political restructuring that was projected.

The instability of the international market has also brought back South Africa’s established white capital into the political arena; looking to control ‘the political economy of their domicile’ since the international market is stuck in perpetual uncertainty.

In a survivalist bid, established capital has re-entered the political arena to scramble for open control of the local political economy. With fragmentation within the ANC, and sustained standoff around Gupta shenanigans providing a moral window, different social and capitalist forces successfully conceal their strategic intentions of exerting long-term control over the political center in the state.

What we say and do in the terrain of economic policy between now and 2019, especially in 2017, will determine whether figures like Julius Malema (on the populist left) and the DA (with its ‘clean-governance’, lean state, free market liberalism) will constitute the rallying point of a new idealism that SA is increasingly searching for.

Our continued fragmentation as the ANC and related inability to collectively generate effective perspectives to respond to this social drift is opening up a window for unimaginable outcomes. A moment of radical shifts in electoral patterns is increasingly consolidating on the basis of the center not holding.

The key challenge for the future lies in our capacity as the ANC to generate a binding idealism built on practical radical economic reform, a believable ethical agenda to transform state power and a convincing ideational leadership on matters of race, gender and other dimensions of social relations.

If the prevailing political polarity persists without the ANC asserting itself as the driving political center on the basis of superior political values that are coherently articulated alongside visible transformation in economic and social relations, then the stage is set for us to be the Hilary Clintons of this country.

 

CDE ZUKO GODLIMPI IS A MEMBER OF THE ANC YOUTH LEAGUE

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MTBPS BALANCES INCLUSIVE GROWTH, ECONOMIC TRANSFORMATION AND FISCAL SUSTAINABILITY

ENOCH GODONGWANA

The much anticipated Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) that was delivered in Parliament this week by Finance Minister, ComradePravin Gordan, is a good response in the difficult economic and political conditions facing South Africa.

The MTBPS sets out a detailed programme for the next three years that balances inclusive growth, economic transformation and fiscal sustainability. It’s now up to all of us to unite around this programme in order to take the country forward.

The main challenge facing South Africa today is economic growth that grew by only 0.5 per cent this year, this is much too low. This means that we do not have the resources we need to increase service delivery.

In the short term, the key problem is lack of confidence and hope for the future. This is reflected in a contraction in investment, the first time this has happened since the recession. In part this is the result of us scoring “own goals” – hurdles that we have placed in our own path.

South Africa needs to boost confidence that will enable us to know where we are going. We have to build trust with investors, so that they invest resources in our economy. If there is uncertainty about politics and suspicion of government; if our people do not have a strong sense of hope about the future, then investors will not invest in that future.

But, not all is lost, we think the worst is now over and the economy will begin to recover from the next fiscal year. In order for such positive results to happen, we need to act decisively, and with a renewed sense of urgency. If we don’t, the recovery will not be strong enough to begin reducing the high rates of unemployment, especially among the youth, and poverty. What we need as matter of urgency is a programme of action.

There are key programmes that the ANC-led government will need to pay closer attention to in order for the economy to grow.

Concluding the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA)
We are pleased that both the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces are moving with speed to conclude amendments to the Act.

Reviving investment in mining and agriculture
Mining has been negatively affected by both commodity prices and our politics. However, currently, there is an improvement in commodity prices while agriculture is still suffering from the effects of the most severe drought the country has witnessed in 22 years.

Building consensus on labor market reforms
This is also one of the areas where tremendous progress has been made on both the minimum wage and the management of strikes

Announcing a framework for private co-investment in infrastructure and state-owned companies

There is a pressing need to restore confidence in the governance of our state owned companies.

Building cohesion in both government and the ANC
Not only must growth be faster, it must also be more inclusive. This means we need growth and economic transformation.

That translates to protecting the sustainability of the fiscus in order to sustain redistribution. Anything that undermines our fiscal institutions is in fact anti-transformation, because these institutions have to deliver taxes taken largely from the wealthy to finance economic social change for the masses of our people.

As the governing political party, we have to focus on labor intensive sectors such as; mining, agriculture and services. It can’t be that in the name of transformation we undermine investment in these sectors, resulting in job losses.

Also, we must act to prevent de-industrialization, and build our manufacturing sector. We have managed to achieve real big exchange rate depreciation, and currently, the country is in a position to be more competitive with its exports. Inclusive growth also means the transformation of the economy, the form of transformation that must achieve real change in the lives of all our people. It must create new patterns of ownership and participation in the economy that reflects the future, not the past.

The ANC must come to a realization that the type of economic transformation currently at play has failed in that it only get contracts for a few black people who happen to have political connections. Rather than being seen as enabling corruption that results from the relationships formed between politicians and the politically connected, we need to open tenders to all. Wealth must be distributed to the masses just not just a few. It must be fair and transparent.

All our people must benefit not a few insiders.

We must applaud Cde Gordan because the MTBPS has achieved a difficult balancing act for fiscal sustainability. We cannot carry on borrowing so much to pay for services. We already owe R2 trillion and its rising fast. We have to stabilize the situation.

But we also have policy aims; the National Health Insurance, a better deal for tertiary students and a better quality early childhood development. All these things are important for the future of our country but we cannot continue to pay for such essential programmes by borrowing. We have to reignite economic growth to generate the resources that are needed the country’s future needs.

The MTBPS was able to propose a measured, balanced fiscal consolidation, but also sustain funding on the most important priorities. There is very fast growth in allocations to universities and students from poor and working class backgrounds. Social protection and health also grow fast in the next three years.

Tax increases, which are painful but necessary, were also proposed for the next fiscal year. We already have a progressive tax system. All we need to do is built on it. But, ultimately reigniting the momentum of growth is the only sustainable alternative to more taxes.

CDE ENOCH GODONGWANA IS THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE ANC NEC SUB-COMMITTEE ON ECONOMIC TRANSFORMATION