Dave Steward delivers Speech on 'Political and Ideological Threats to your Company'
DAVE STEWARD DELIVERS SPEECH ON 'POLITICAL AND IDEOLOGICAL THREATS TO YOUR COMPANY'
In a speech to ASIS International on 8 August, Dave Steward said that businesses could not ignore the ideological and policy debates that were currently being conducted within the ruling alliance. “The decisions that will be taken at the ANC’s National Conference in Manguang in December will affect the future of the country - and of your companies - for years to come. They will, in the first place, determine who our national leaders will be for the next five years. They will also indicate the direction in which national policy will move during the critically important period that lies ahead”.
Steward indentified three main policy directions that the Manguang Conference might consider.
The first was the National Planning Commission’s National Development Plan. He said that few people would disagree with the NPC’s vision which accentuated constitutional democracy; national unity; high quality education; health and social services; and sustainable economic growth providing fair employment and a favourable environment for business.
Similarly, few would disagree with the NPC’s diagnosis of the problems confronting South Africa - and especially its identification of high unemployment and poor education as the priority problems.
Steward pointed out that uncertainty about future economic policy had a negative impact on investment and job creation. “Primarily because of the uncertainty about future policies, South Africa’s mining industry actually shrank by 1% per annum in dollar terms during the 2000-08 commodities boom, while the mining industries of China, Russia and Indonesia grew respectively by 19%, 10% and 8%.”
Steward said that the second policy approach that the Mangaung Conference might consider was the accelerated implementation of ANC’s National Democratic Revolution (NDR). Although the Policy Conference generally failed to provide clarity on policy directions, a few factors had emerged from its deliberations:
Firstly, President Zuma appeared to favour the accelerated and radical implementation of the National Democratic Revolution. His closing statement was filled with radical and uncompromising rhetoric, much of it aimed at white males. It was peppered with harsh references to “apartheid colonialism” and the “structural legacy of colonialism of a special type.”
According to President Zuma, white males continue to dominate the economy; to control the wealth and to occupy most of the top jobs. The implication was that the triple crisis of unemployment, inequality and poverty had been caused by white males and the continuing impact of “apartheid colonialism”.
Secondly, there was a general perception that the balance of forces had shifted sufficiently - in South Africa and internationally - for the ANC to abandon compromises it made during the political transition. The Policy Conference supported:
- increasing the role of government in the economy through the introduction of a “developmental state”;
- greater state involvement in mining, falling short of outright nationalisation, but including the principle that “minerals belong to the people as a whole, and should be governed by the democratic developmental state“ and that “the state should also capture an equitable share of mineral resource rents”;
- accelerated land reform that “must represent a radical and rapid break from the past, without significantly disrupting agricultural production and food security” and that would abandon the principle of “willing buyer, willing seller”;
- government access to the assets of insurance and pension funds to finance state developmental projects; and
- the appointment of a Presidential Commission to consider the future of the provinces.
However, the Policy Conference rejected President Zuma’s formulation of a “second transition” and preferred to call it a “second phase.”
The third road that policy might take is the long-term vision of the SACP and COSATU for the establishment of a communist state.
- The SACP was one of the driving forces behind President Zuma’s proposed ‘Second Phase.’ However, it did not see the NDR as the final destination of the revolutionary process. It viewed it as the beginning of a new phase when the SACP - as the self-proclaimed vanguard of the working class - would take over leadership of the revolution which would culminate in the establishment of a communist state.
- The SACP did not believe that democratic elections were the most appropriate path to state power. In its 2007 “The Road to Socialism” it had quoted with approval the 1928 Communist International instruction that,
“Our aim should be to transform the African National Congress into a fighting nationalist revolutionary organization”... “developing systematically the leadership of the workers and the Communist Party in this organization.”
Steward noted that although the National Conference in Mangaung would determine the country’s future policy direction, it would have to do so within the framework of a number of constraints:
- the Constitution did not devolve absolute power on parliament and on the executive. It provided government with all the powers it needed to rule - but required it to do so within the reasonable constraints that it and the Bill of Rights had established. Power was dispersed throughout society; unconstitutional laws and conduct could be checked by an independent judiciary; ordinary citizens could promote their legitimate objectives through civil society organisations and could appeal to Chapter 9 institutions to defend their rights;
- any government action that deviated too significantly from international norms of democratic and economic governance would be severely punished by markets and international opinion;
- no modern state could successfully govern against the will of substantial minorities;
- those who supported pragmatic constitutional and economic approaches had an enormous advantage on ‘the battlefield of ideas’;
- black politicians, journalists, businessmen and religious leaders were in the vanguard of those who supported the Constitution and workable approaches to transformation; and finally
- the Constitution and the ANC’s broadly pragmatic macro-economic approach had served South Africa well during the past 18 years.
For all these reasons Steward said that he was reasonably confident about the future.
Published in: FW de Klerk Foundation