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Sep 12 2008

A country where men are men, and the ANC is divided

Published by at 11:15 am under Opinion,South Africa

First published on my old blog on 4/2/2008. 

Don’t be fooled by assurances that it’s all peace, unity and solidarity in the ANC. My gut tells me the opposite is true – just below the surface things are boiling. The situation is actually very “sensitive” at present. 

The biggest problem I have with this fight between the Mbeki camp and the leftist, communist-dominated Zuma camp, is that the latter wants to give the state a bigger role in the economy. It wants to centralize decision-making and fix prices in a number of key sectors, including the building and the health sectors. And this after the evidence is there for all to see that the state and its departments are completely ineffective. That the Zuma camp doesn’t see the contradiction in its “solution” for the lack of delivery we’ve had under Mbeki, is disturbing in itself. 

But, it gets worse. That they haven’t noticed what price-fixing does to supply, is shocking, because the socialist experiment with price-fixing played itself out over the past 15 years “under the noses of the ANC communists”, so to speak. With devastating results for the people it was supposed to help. 

I’m talking of Mugabe and his Zim paradise, of course. In the late 80s Mugabe thought (for the first time, if I remember well): ‘I’ve had enough of these whities charging these high prices for their agriculture products….I’ll show them…I’m going to fix prices.’ So, he fixed prices at levels which he thought the people could afford, and lo and behold, a short while later there were no products on the shelves any longer, because producers can’t stay in business if they get less for their products than it costs to produce them. 

But, that was just a colonialist ploy. And so, the Big M went on with his price-fixing until all the shelves in all the supermarkets were empty. (It sounds a bit like a fairy tale, doesn’t it…) 

I guess one could call what Mugabe tried “a perfect failure”. But, now a group of ANC members wants prices to be fixed in a number of sectors in South Africa! That sounds almost unbelievable, doesn’t it, given the spectacular failure we’ve had with price-fixing on our doorstep.

So, one must conclude: Should the Zuma camp give the state an active, or leading role in the economy, the markets will probably get edgy and punish the rand. 

Secondly, the war of words over the past weekend between Tito Mboweni and the “lefties in the corner” (read communists) is a clear indication that Tito is on his way out. There will be a different governor under Zuma. Who it will be (who it can be) is still unclear. And the markets will (definitely) remain nervous until the new governor has shown that he isn’t soft on inflation (read: that he can make his monetary policy decisions free from political interference). 

So, the situation is very delicate. 

The next 15 months is shaping up to be a paradise for wise-guy bloggers, like me.

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