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The national democratic revolution and Tito Mboweni’s predicament

The national democratic revolution and Tito Mboweni’s predicament

by Gerhard Papenfus

The ANC’s National Democratic Revolution (NDR), among others, deals with the ‘strategy’ and ‘tactics’ of the ruling party in order to achieve its social- and economic goals. That means transforming the South African society in accordance with the vision of the ANC.

According to the NDR, “social change requires social agencies(sic)” as the drivers of change. The ANC further “sees itself as the organised vanguard with the responsibility of educating, organising and mobilising these drivers of change to act in their profound self-interest.”

The NDR continues to state that “because of the seamless continuity between the struggle against apartheid, colonialism and the process of building a new society, activism among the social forces - with new tasks under new conditions - is fundamental.”

One of the NDR’s “main motive force(s) of the process of change” is “black workers - employed and unemployed - urban and rural.” This particular “motive force” played a major role during the “struggle years”.

The NDR was written during the fairy tale days when the authors believed that prosperity was a given and that money could not dry up. Now that the money has indeed dried up, the reality has kicked in and a new danger is looming; division in the ruling party and opposing forces, each with their own form of “profound self-interest.” 

Keeping these self-serving opposing forces (each driven by “profound self-interest”) in check, while, at the same time, translating economic realities - as reflected in the Treasury’s document on ‘Economic transformation, inclusive growth and competitiveness’ into a workable solution, is Minister Mboweni’s challenge while he is adding the final touches to the medium-term budget policy statement.

All attempts to date, even hinting at ‘trimming down’ State Owned Enterprises and the public sector, were met with severe opposition. It is, unfortunately for government, in this area where the tough decisions will have to be made. Bloated and unproductive institutions, where role players with their respective unique but profound self-interests guard the status quo, threaten South Africa’s financial recovery.

The responsibility of government is to give direction and, when the situation dictates, to make tough decisions. At some point these decisions will have to be made - the sooner the better.

Gerhard Papenfus is the Chief Executive of the National Employers' Association of South Africa (NEASA).

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