ANC signals it wants Manuel in new Cabinet

The African National Congress (ANC) has nominated Finance Minister Trevor Manuel—an investor favourite—high on a party list for Parliament, showing it probably wants him to remain influential in Cabinet, the Star reported on Thursday.

South Africa, the continent’s biggest economy, holds a general election due around April and investors are hoping the country sticks to business-friendly policies.

The Star, which said it had obtained a copy of the list, said Manuel is in fourth place out of 777 names. It also expressed confidence in central bank governor Tito Mboweni, who came in 70th on the list, which has not been finalised.

Respected by investors as having a steady hand, Manuel is seen as crucial to ensuring stability and confidence after the election. But it’s unclear whether he will stay as finance minister after 13 years or move to a different portfolio.

ANC leader Jacob Zuma is expected to become state president after the election despite a revived corruption case that has dogged him.
Zuma topped the ANC list.

The ruling party held a national list conference over the weekend. The party is expected to start finalising the list at a meeting of its executive on Thursday.

‘We cannot afford confusion’
Earlier this month, Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Helen Zille said that an ANC lurch to the left is bound to throw the country off course.

She was speaking at an economic summit arranged prior to the DA publishing its economic policy.

Zille said the aim was to come up with a sustainable response to the economic crisis.

“It needs clear leadership as to how we respond,” she said.

Zille noted that there were divisions in the tripartite alliance—the ANC, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and the South African Communist Party (SACP)—as while Manuel looked for no change in economic policy, Cosatu and the SACP were promising shifts.

“We cannot afford confusion and contradiction at this time of crisis,” said Zille. She said that if this did ensue, then the country would be “punished by the markets”.

Zille felt there would be second-round effects from the crisis, which was a negative portent for economic growth.

“We need to craft a local solution to a global problem,” she said.

Notably, she said that labour analysts had predicted 310 000 jobs could be lost in South Africa in 2009, coming on top of the 74 000 jobs lost in the third quarter of 2008.

“It will have a significant impact on our social and hence our political fabric,” she said.—Reuters, I-Net Bridge

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