Head of the South African Institute for Race Relations, John Kane-Berman, says the Marikana shooting may force the ANC to abandon failing policies.
The government would, henceforth, find it harder to defend a shoot to kill policing policy, he said. "Perhaps now that the whole world has seen the consequences at Marikana, ministers such as Susan Shabangu, formerly of the police ministry but now at mining, are going to be less inclined to urge policemen to shoot to kill."
But in itself, the August 16 shooting of 34 striking mine workers would hardly force a rethink of the ruling party's commitment to the national democratic revolution as its overarching policy direction, he said in a speech in Cape Town marking the release of the institute's annual survey.
It was unlikely that the entire process of police appointments would be depoliticised and put on a merit system, he said. Instead, policies developed post-1994 and reaffirmed at the ANC policy conference this year were likely to be abandoned over an extended period of time because, like apartheid, they became economically impossible to sustain.
"The ANC's retreat from its policies is going to be like that of the apartheid state—a reluctant retreat from the unworkable," he said. "Unfortunately, it is unlikely to occur before there has been more damage, and we must not underestimate that organisation's capacity for thoughtless destruction.
"There are limitations on how far it can exert state power when its own policies weaken the state and its legitimacy is being eroded, partly by corruption and partly by the way the organisation and its allies operate, and one consequence of how they operate is increasing alienation from its own supporters."
Kane-Berman said the ANC appeared to realise that President Jacob Zuma had become "a liability" with voters, hence persistent theories that he would serve out a full second term after probably holding on to the party's presidency at the Mangaung conference.
He said historically, all political parties were slow to change policy direction, but there were already signs that the ANC was being forced to do so, notably in recent calls to reopen nursing colleges and in growing discontent with the collective bargaining system.
He urged a Thatcherite break with existing labour policy to stimulate employment and a wholesale selling off of state entities from Eskom power stations to public schools to reduce the state's role in the economy and society.
The government could fix education only by declaring "war on the South African Democratic Teachers' Union".
It also needed to realise itself incapable of providing national health care. Instead, it should boost the role of private medical health insurance companies and use tax revenue to give citizens vouchers to pay for privatised health care and schooling.
The state should focus only on providing a limited number of services, because it had proven itself incapable of doing so on a large scale, he said. – Sapa