Five issues on which the ANC put its foot down
The ANC had its lekgotla last week during which national executive committee members, the party’s leagues, alliance partners, ministers and their deputies and high-ranking government officials decided on a course of action for the year.
This will be hammered into government policy at the cabinet lekgotla, which starts tomorrow in Pretoria, and announced by President Jacob Zuma in his State of the Nation Address on February 14.
In a somewhat unusual move, the party briefed journalists on the ANC’s decisions shortly before the start of the cabinet gathering.
Five of the biggies at the lekgotla were:
1. Youth Wage Subsidy – After a two-year-long fight between government and Cosatu, this is now called the Youth Employment and Incentive Scheme, which means government “will not be giving money to the private sector, but cost-sharing”, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said.
“People say the youth wage subsidy is the silver bullet, but our view is if you use incentives, you use a multi-pronged approach to fight unemployment,” he said.
These incentives could go to businesses or further education and training colleges or any institution that can help give young people jobs and experience. The ANC met Cosatu this morning about its decisions.
2. Education as an essential service – This one is set to get some resistance from teachers’ unions, because by wanting to declare education an essential service, the ANC means it doesn’t want teachers to strike and disrupt children’s education.
Mantashe said the party meant this not so much in the legal sense of the word as in the “attitudinal sense”.
“Leave out what the law says about essential service,” Mantashe said. “The starting point is that if you disrupt education, although you are not threatening a life, you are disrupting the means of learning and threatening the growth and survival of society.”
3. Eskom’s tariff hike too steep – The ANC felt Eskom’s application to raise its tariffs with 16% for three years in a row was too high and would threaten industrial growth. “We all accepted that 16%, 16%, 16% would have a negative impact,” Mantashe said.
He added that the lekgotla spoke about “the importance of ensuring that there is security of supply”. Eskom is currently conducting public hearings on its proposed tariff hike.
4. Iron fist on violent protests – Mantashe said violent protests were self-defeating: “By participating in violent protests you are actively destroying your right to protest because you are inviting the police to be there, while it is not their place.”
The ANC “directed the state to find ways and implementable means as a matter of urgency to deal with the twin phenomenon of violent strikes and violent community protests,” Mantashe said.
5. ANC housework – The lekgotla endorsed the names of those appointed to the party’s national deployment committee (headed by ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa), the drafting committee (headed by ANC policy head Jeff Radebe), and the constitutional affairs committee (chaired by Collins Chabane).
It also told the ANC Youth League to “submit in writing how mistakes committed in the past can be corrected”.
The ANC’s officials will meet with the league to decide on future action.