Sep 12 2008

Be afraid, be very afraid

Published by at 8:36 am under Opinion,South Africa

First published on my old blog on 13/12/2007. 

Jacob Zuma will be SA’s next president thanks (among others) to the support of the trade union Cosatu. Once he’s in, it’ll be very difficult (I think impossible) for Zuma to get away without a “pay-back” to those who helped him into the pound seats. 

Here is a taste of the economic ideas of those who helped him into the post.

This interview with the Cosatu big boss was published in the FT today. 

Expect the rand to start twitching nervously… 

Vavi blasts Mbeki’s economic policies 
Sapa Published:Dec 13, 2007 

We have had this flirtation with neo-liberal policies that have been absolutely disastrous for our development. 

President Thabo Mbeki’s free market economic policies have been “disastrous” for the country, Zwelinzima Vavi, Cosatu’s general secretary, told the Financial Times in an interview published today.

Vavi accused Mbeki’s government of having lost sight of the concerns of the poor and unemployed during his eight years of rule. 

“If the world belonged to me, everything stops now,” he told the Financial Times, adding that new policies should be the result of a broad, national debate. 

“Business people will seize on his comments, as Mr Vavi has been a force behind Mr Zuma’s increasingly confident campaign to replace Mr Mbeki as the ANC leader,” the Financial Times said. 

Speaking in Cosatu’s Johannesburg headquarters, Vavi told the Financial Times that the ANC had rushed “too quickly” to open the economy after the end of white rule in 1994. 

“We allowed the marketers to take charge of important departments and all they knew was that South Africa must be open to chilly winds of competition.

“The focus should have been on labour intensive, rather than capital intensive sectors,” Vavi said in the interview. 

“We have had this flirtation with neo-liberal policies that have been absolutely disastrous for our development.” 

While Vavi told the Financial Times that he liked Finance Minister Trevor Manuel “as a friend” and for having disproved the sceptics who suspected that the ANC would wreck the economy on taking power. 

However, he said, Manuel had failed the poor.

Vavi went on to tell the Financial Times that Zuma had been right to reassure investors that policy would not be set on the whims of the president – but rather by the party.

Zuma was right to have said “I do not have horns and a tail.”

Vavi attacked the culture of Mbeki’s government during the interview. 

He said Mbeki’s allies liked to suggest the union movement was seeking to lead South Africa into Zimbabwe-style chaos. 

But “we are not asking for hyper inflation, we don’t ask for high deficits, we say that money ought to be spent and invested correctly”, Vavi said. 


Unemployment, officially at 25 percent, but informally estimated to be near 40 per cent, was a “national emergency”, Vavi said. 
My comment: The guy thinks the non-delivery of services to the poor has to do with Trevor’s economic policies….and should therefore be changed. This will be a classic example of “throwing out the baby (good economic policies) with the bathwater (Mbeki). The cause of all SA’s “lack of poverty alleviation” over the past 10 years should be searched for in Mbeki’s office – not in Manuel’s or Tito Mboweni’s offices. They were not responsible for service provision and poverty alleviation. That was the responsibility of other ministries….and the leader Mbeki. Manuel and Mboweni were responsible for providing the riches for alleviating the plight of the poor. And they were extremely successful at doing this.

Vavi can’t even diagnose the problem properly…just think what he’ll come up with when he has to make policy inputs under Zuma. Be afraid, be very afraid.

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