'We've failed to rebuild economy'
ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe admitted that the party had failed to negotiate a better deal when the party ascended to power in 1994.
He was speaking at a meeting at the University of Johannesburg (Soweto campus) attended by academics, businesspeople and civil society to discuss the outcomes of the ANC policy conference that was held in June.
He said the economic transformation backlog would be dealt with through the adoption of radical policies later this year.
"We don't think we were very strong on the economic aspect. We thought when we acquired power we would use it to change the economic terrain. We are in a continuation from apartheid to national democratic society. We need a radical shift in policy to realise economic transformation," Mantashe said.
Thirteen draft policy documents emanating from that conference will be discussed further and adopted in Mangaung in December.
Mantashe said the party regrets some flaws such as how the SA Reserve Bank had been made more independent than it was in 1994 and how the government had allowed private shareholding among other things.
"We must make a bold statement that we will attend to that backlog on economic transformation," he said, referring to the Strategy and Tactics document, which charts the way forward for achieving a "national democratic revolution".
The document was criticised as lacking depth by some analysts yesterday, who also felt there was a broad understanding of the term "revolution" and that this needed to be simplified.
Mantashe also hit out at the tender system, saying the state needed to have its own capacity to do basic things. He highlighted the unintended consequences of Black Economic Empowerment (BEE), which had so far failed to transform the economy. Such failures, including rampant poverty, inequality and unemployment, had prompted the debate on the new phase of the national democratic revolution.
Xolani Qubeka, CEO of the Black Business Forum, agreed with Mantashe, saying the BEE policy "lacked teeth". He further criticised many government interventions, saying they were more focused on compliance than driving economic transformation.
Another professional from the banking sector lamented that the term "BEE" had become a swearword used by people only when it suited them.
With just four months to go before Mangaung, Mantashe said the dynamics in the ruling party had changed, as it was currently marred by "negative tendencies".
"Today we must deal with the reality of corruption," he said, comparing the current situation with taking a mouse to a cheese factory. But he played down factionalism within the the party.
"I don't think the fact that people have different views means the organisation is stagnant," he said. - firstname.lastname@example.org