"I commend the outstanding work of the National Planning Commission (NPC) in preparing this National Development Plan (NDP). As a wish list of government, it is admirable, and the Inkatha Freedom Party supports its implementation. As the IFP, we recognise the enormity of the task given to the NPC to define a plan and a policy framework for the country over the next 18 years. In an effort to support this task, the IFP submitted more than 20 000 words of advice to the commission on the NDP.
We believe in singing from the same hymn sheet for the benefit of South Africa, particularly on matters of life and death. Surely our country’s economic policy is such a matter. Let me therefore register the IFP’s concern over the implementation of this commendable plan.
A new day, a new plan
I was in Cabinet when former president Thabo Mbeki announced the policy of GEAR: Growth, Employment and Redistribution.
I remember describing it in parliament as a Damascene experience – a watershed moment – on the part of the ANC, which had long been committed to socialism. Immediately, however, the tripartite partners of the ANC – Cosatu and the South African Communist Party – rejected GEAR. We saw its members on television jumping up and down shouting: “We do not want GEAR! Asifuni GEAR!”
So GEAR gave way to ASGISA, the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative. Cosatu then developed its own economic policy, as did the ANC Youth League, so that soon we had a tower of Babel situation on a matter of critical importance.
Our country’s economic policy remains unclear. The nationalisation of our mines, for instance, has been endorsed by the ANC Youth League, Cosatu and parts of the ANC. Yet President Jacob Zuma has declared that nationalisation is not government policy. Why then does the ANC give it space for debate? They are, after all, the ruling party. It boggles my mind that the ANC still debates socialist policies which destroyed Russia and all the Eastern bloc countries, including East Germany.
Even former president Nelson Mandela, who believed in nationalisation up until 1994, abandoned the idea and embraced the free enterprise system. The mere statement that there is space for debating nationalisation is damaging to prospects of foreign investment in South Africa. Therefore, while we now have the NDR, the IFP questions whether competing ideologies might not still influence policy and arrest the implementation of the best-laid plan.
And we have a greater reason for concern. When the ANC met in June this year at its policy conference and took far-reaching decisions on the way forward for the party, President Zuma made no mention of the NDP. It is as though the programme of the ruling party will not be confined to, or even aligned with, the programme of government.
The NDP vs the NDR
Perhaps the most pivotal question is where the National Democratic Revolution (NDR) fits into the National Development Plan. Clearly the NDR is not something the ruling party is going to abandon, regardless of how it might clash with the good intentions and commendable policy ideals contained in the NDP. The latter seeks to stir a sense of ownership within our society, so that every citizen can feel part of creating the more prosperous, more peaceful, more united South Africa that we all desire.
The IFP’s concern is that a ruling party which sees itself as a national liberation movement, responsible for implementing a national democratic revolution, will inevitably believe it is uniquely entitled to rule, without opposition. That is antithetical to democracy. The IFP supports the NDP and we commend the commission on a job well done. But we struggle to embrace the credibility of intention to implement this plan as the genuine priority of the ruling party.
In this case, we pray that we are wrong."
This article was adapted from a speech delivered by Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, leader of the IFP, at the joint sitting in the National Assembly during the debate on the NDR. For more information, contact Prince Buthelezi’s spokesperson, Liezl van der Merwe, on 082 729 2510.
The views expressed in our weekly opinion piece do not necessarily reflect those of Farmer’s Weekly.