Phosa: ANC has made serious mistakes

The African National Congress (ANC) has made serious mistakes on public service deployment, black economic empowerment and land reform that must be corrected after the elections, ANC treasurer-general Mathews Phosa said on Wednesday.

“People have been given jobs without the necessary qualifications and then could not do the job properly. There were very outrageous cases. Mistakes were made and we must correct them,” he told the Cape Town Press Club.

Phosa said the ANC was aware that in the creation of a post-apartheid public service “there was not an even hand” and that this triggered a brain drain that hampered delivery.

“Let’s be blunt about it, most of those who left were white.
They are now in the private sector, in Australia, in Vancouver. We need to correct these things.

“We need to make the public service attractive for people. If we don’t deal with it service delivery is not going to take place.”

Phosa said the next administration would reward public servants who delivered and penalise those who did not perform.

Likewise, he said, land reform policy had often failed to achieve its aims, notably in Limpopo province, because the beneficiaries were not given the help they needed to cultivate land.

“Seventy percent of land returned into black hands collapsed and there are lessons to be learned. This sunk in with the government after Limpopo, we made mistakes and need to correct those.

“They need counselling, advice on what to do with land to avoid the disaster of Limpopo.”

Phosa also conceded that black economic empowerment had been “manipulated for the benefit of a few people” instead of being used to give a large percentage of black people a meaningful stake in the economy.

“We must correct that and start at the bottom of the pyramid rather than say we should all be given shares in Anglo American.”

He was adamant that the next government would focus on the plight of the poorest of the poor.

But he said this should not be read as a sign that it would veer to the left to appease its alliance partners, Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and the South African Communist Party, whose support helped secure Jacob Zuma the ANC presidency.

“Some 60% of South Africans live in rural areas and are poor. We will not ignore the poor. We worry about the unemployed. Cosatu worries about those who already have jobs and are unionised.

He added that economists should be assured that in trying to alleviate poverty “we will not spend money if we don’t have money”.

Phosa dismissed calls for bail-outs for stricken companies, saying it would send the wrong message to business.

“We will be creating a precedent because if you did wrong things you get help from government. It is an immoral approach to business—we [would be] punishing those who did well in business,” he said.

Phosa said the incoming administration’s top priority would be protecting the vulnerable and fighting poverty, but that he doubted that bail-outs were part of a sustainable job-creation strategy.

“Zuma just wants neutral judges”
Phosa also said that Zuma’s controversial remark last week that the Constitutional Court is “not God” was merely a plea for judges not to take political sides.

He said he rushed to get clarification from Zuma after he appeared to question the role of the country’s highest court in an interview published in Independent Newspapers’ titles last week.

“The morning after, I had a discussion with him because I wanted to be clear the context in which it was said.”

But he said he was reassured that “there is no ANC policy that we must change the Constitutional Court”.

He said Zuma took issue with remarks attributed to Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke just after the ANC’s watershed conference in Polokwane in 2007 where Zuma was voted in as party leader.

Moseneke reportedly told guests at a birthday party: “I want to use my energy to help create an equal society. It’s not what the ANC wants or what the delegates want: it is about what is good for our people.”

Phosa said Zuma felt it was not healthy for judges to “reduce themselves” to expressing personal opinions about political parties.

“They should not show their preferences, they should not lower their guard.”

In the interview published three days after the National Prosecuting Authority withdrew fraud and corruption charges against Zuma, the presidential frontrunner said a democracy could not have “people who are almost like god”.

He said Constitutional Court judges were fallible and called for the Judicial Service Commission to review the status of the court.

“As the president of the country ... I think it’s important to engage them, to raise these kinds of issues in their organisation,” he said.

Phosa called on South Africans to accept that the fact that the charges against Zuma were dropped, saying those who insisted he was guilty were violating his right to be presumed innocent.

On Wednesday, former chief justice Arthur Chaskalson appeared to respond to Zuma’s remarks in an opinion piece published in the Cape Times and the Star that asserted the independence and impartiality of the highest court in the land.

“On no occasion throughout the nearly 11 years that I presided over that court did I ever hear or think that one of its judges was allowing personal considerations to interfere with his or her judicial duties,” Chaskalson said.

He called on government to respect the courts.

“The binding force of decisions of the Constitutional Courts has always been respected by the president and other organs of state, even when decisions have gone against them,” he wrote.

“This is important, for if the government does not respect the courts and obey the law, it can’t expect or require others to do so.”—Sapa

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