ANC tardiness reducing 'second transition' to a pipedream
Numsa offers this perspective
SINCE the publication in February of an ANC discussion document that calls on South Africa to embark on what it calls 'a second transition', a debate has been raging on the proposal.
Unfortunately, the debate has been confined to the merits or demerits of the concept.
Recently, the concept has regrettably become a proxy for different groupings within the ANC; ostensibly positioning themselves for this week's national policy conference and, ultimately, its elective gathering in Mangaung.
According to the authors of the "second transition" discussion document, "having concluded our first transition with its focus on democratisation", we need "a vision for a second transition that must focus on the social and economic transformation of South Africa over the next 30 to 50 years".
The goals of such transition are rising per capita income, full employment, reduction in wealth and income inequalities, and changes in racial and patterns of wealth and income.
The discussion paper commits the ANC to "a mixed economy with state, cooperatives and other forms of social ownership co-existing with a vibrant private sector".
For Numsa, the important questions to be raised are: why have we as we country not moved to achieve these noble goals (spelt out in the Reconstructive and Development Programme and numerous policy documents of the ANC)? Secondly, how adequate are the measures proposed in the new document to realise all the talk about full employment; rising per capita income; reduction in inequalities; and changes in patterns of wealth and income?
It is in answering these questions that the discussion document is at its weakest. Except in a reference to the 2002 strategy and tactics document of the ANC, the current document makes no mention of how existing property relations and failure to deal with this reality have been obstacles to transformation. The document is also mum on the role of monopoly capital in blocking transformation.
The paper for discussion this week's conference does not seriously evaluate the policy choices taken over the last 18 years.
Numsa's view is that unless questions of property ownership are addressed head on, we will continue to fail to implement thoroughgoing socio-economic transformation and the so-called "second transition" will remain a pipedream.
In Numsa discussion documents released on the eve of the union's national congress early this month, we pointed to indices that showed an increase in the degree of concentration in the agricultural sector where about 2 500 farms produce more than half of total output.
We also spoke about how despite the fact that South Africa was one of the top producers of strategic minerals such as chromium, vanadium and manganese we do not have leverage to beneficiate these as we do not control or own them.
It is because of these facts that Numsa believes that the state should take controlling stakes in segments of strategic value chains and adopt a policy of dual pricing that distinguishes domestic from external markets.
It is the timidity of the proposals in the ANC discussion document and refusal to propose measure such as these that we feel that despite the good intentions the "second transition" will amount to nothing for working class and ordinary people.
- Cloete is the deputy general secretary of the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa).