AMANDLA ISSUE 3 | Editorial

by Aug 1, 2011All Articles

AMANDLA ISSUE 3 | EDITORIAL : Economic policy debates are key as the new Jacob Zuma-led ANC government prepares to take over. However, some seven months after the Polokwane conference, the new ANC leadershipís focus seems far away from debates about a new direction in economic policy. Instead, it appears to have a strong penchant for striking out at all those that seem to question some of its actions and interests: the judiciary, the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), and other factions in the ANC. Underlying all this is the goal to ensure that nothing is in the way of Jacob Zuma being elected the countryís president next year. This raises a serious question: is a besieged ANC leadership prepared to undo the economic policies of the post-1994 era?

Whilst the ANC leadership seems besieged, capital has not rested: it is contesting the policy direction by subterfuge, as can be seen in their warning of market volatility if finance minister Trevor Manuel is not retained in a post-Mbeki government; in the Treasury lining up behind this yearís May release of a deeply conservative two-year-old Harvard teamís recommendations; and in the July release of a report on the SA economy by the no less conservative Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
Clearly these are aimed at limiting any transformational momentum that challenges and changes the systemic logic of the capitalist development path we have entrenched since 1994. The ambiguous Polokwane resolution on the economy makes these manoeuvres possible. The resolution does not provide decisive answers on how to address unemployment and systemic transformation of the economy. It is ambiguous on whether the SA economy should loosen its ties with the global capitalist economy, on inflation targeting, on fiscal surpluses, on monetary policy and on the role of the Reserve Bank. The same resolution also shows a contradiction between industrial policy goals and export-oriented trade policy goals. By contrast, the same leadership has shown no ambiguity about there being ëno change in economic policyí. All this creates space for the continuation of neo-liberal policies that capital seeks to exploit.

At the April Alliance Summit, it was agreed to hold ëa top-level conference on economic policyí. For its part, COSATU has set up an internal process to put forward its economic policy proposals to go into the policy conference and the ANC 2009 election manifesto. This is a clear signal that economic policy could be a major battlefield within and outside the alliance.

An absent factor in all the economic policy debates is the organised power, voice and weight of popular movements. This points to the need to bring this social force to bear on the future of economic policy. An opportunity exists for left forces in and outside the alliance to forge common ground on developing not just a platform for economic transformation but also the campaigns necessary to get us there. The proposed conference of the left should be used to this end.

At this critical moment when the future of policy is up for grabs, a lot hinges on the mobilisation of the broad masses, especially when we struggle to overcome reactionary impulses amongst sections of the working-class marginalised by mass unemployment and deprivation. The current wave of COSATU-led actions against high prices for food, electricity and oil are an important arena in which to bring the voices and interests of the unemployed and landless. A critical task is to link these struggles with those of communities against commodification of basic services, for a social wage and for employment.

No matter what the balance of forces is inside the Alliance, without popular struggles, there would be no social force with a weight and voice to block compromises with capital and secure radical changes in favour of the working class.

The views expressed in the articles do not necessarily reflect those of Amandla Publishers, or the Amandla Editorial Collective.

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