Zuming in on economics

So, what does Jacob Zuma, the ANC's new president and the man likely to become the country's future president, stand for?

So, what does Jacob Zuma, the ANC's new president and the man likely to become the country's future president, stand for?

This question has been on the lips of many from the moment it became clear months ago that the controversial populist politician was likely to oust Thabo Mbeki.

Zuma and other leading lights in the ANC have been at pains to assure investors that his accession to the throne will not mean any shift in economic policy.

He has said that much, telling investors at home and abroad that he has nothing different to offer than the ANC's centrist economic policies.

Why then would people fight so hard to see him take over from Mbeki if he will not tamper with his predecessor's supposedly pro-business policies?

It makes no sense.

Yet his supporters, mainly the SACP, Cosatu and the youth league, say they backed him because he was more amiable to "pro-poor" and "pro-worker" policies.

Investor confidence remains undented, if the stock market's reaction so far to Msholozi's trouncing of Mbeki is a touchstone.

Simply put, business remains confident that the capitalist system has no reason to fear Zuma, despite Zwelinzima Vavi and Blade Nzimande's hopes that a Msholozi administration will help lay the foundation for the ultimate destruction of capitalism and its replacement with a dictatorship of the proletariat.

Now even the charming Mr Zuma knows full well that you cannot have your cake and eat it.

He knows that - as deft as he has proven himself to be at juggling multiple political balls simultaneously.

Zuma cannot remain the darling of the socialists and the capitalists.

He will have to spell out what he stands for that makes him different from Mbeki without being seen to be hunting with the hounds and running with the hares.

Our fiscal caution of the past decade will have to be thrown out if Msholozi is to meet the expectations of his main backers and engage in extensive social spending.

And that might well be the appropriate path at this time in our history.

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