Numsa takes aim at Manuel, Mboweni

The Congress of South African Trade Unions’s (Cosatu) powerful metalworkers’ union, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), has accused Finance Minister Trevor Manuel and South African Reserve Bank Governor Tito Mboweni of being key architects behind unpopular macroeconomic policies that have created wealth for the few, while the majority is still trapped in poverty.

Addressing a media briefing in Johannesburg on Wednesday, Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim said the time for neo-liberal policies was over, and that if Manuel still believed in them he should leave the African National Congress (ANC) to join former defence minister Mosiuoa Lekota’s party—the Congress of the People (COP).

“We acknowledge that Trevor can still make a contribution in the ANC, but if he is to be deployed on neo-liberal policies [ticket], the time for that is over. Those individuals should join [the COP]. We don’t want people who subscribe to International Monetary Fund policies [in the ANC],” said Jim.

Numsa, the third largest union in Cosatu, has called for an urgent review of all the macroeconomic policies.

Such a review, Jim said, would ensure that the post-2009 South Africa adopts a job-led economic growth path that would undo the inherited rural and urban apartheid economic and social geography.

Jim expressed disappointment on Manuel’s recent comments, in which he said any talk of a shift to the left after the 2009 elections will be tantamount to abusing the working and poor people of this country by giving them false hope.

“We find Trevor Manuel’s thinking extremely strange, especially in the light of what the United States, European and Asian government have done to bail out capitalists. At a global level, we find it impossible to understand why Manuel thinks similar actions cannot be taken to bail out billions of workers and poor people, who need a very small fraction of the huge amounts of money the governments of capitalist countries are making available to already rich people to continue to make money.

“Why does Trevor think it is morally and economically right to throw massive sums of money to save banks from collapsing but it is impossible and foolish to spend less amounts of money to create real wealth and real jobs for the unemployed workers and poor people?

Jim has accused Manuel of being a champion of the project to modernise South African capitalism, even if it does not make sense to do so anymore.

Jim said South Africa is today experiencing extreme fluctuation of the value of the rand as a result of Mboweni’s “comical efforts at inflation-targeting”.

Numsa also called on former president Thabo Mbeki to come out and declare his loyalty as between the ANC and the COP.

“He must come clean. He [Mbeki] said he has been loyal to the ANC for 52 years but he has not said what will happen from now on,” said Jim.

Matuma Letsoalo

Matuma Letsoalo

Matuma Letsoalo is the political editor of the Mail & Guardian. He joined the newspaper in 2003 and has won numerous awards since then, including the regional award for Vodacom Journalist of the Year in the economics and finance category in 2015, SA Journalist of the Year in 2011, the Mondi Shanduka SA Story of the Year award in 2008 and CNN African Journalist of the Year – MKO Abiola Print Journalism in 2004. Read more from Matuma Letsoalo

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