ANC talks tough on land, wealth tax and minimum wage

Still recalibrating after last year’s local election defeats and amid escalating tensions among its top leaders, the ANC plan for 2017 is to manage a potentially bruising leadership contest, take another shot at the elusive land question and change ownership patterns in the economy.

The governing party’s 2017 strategy was formulated at its annual lekgotla, held in Irene near Pretoria at the end of January. It was attended by members of the ANC’s national executive committee and its youth, veterans and women’s leagues, as well as its allies, the South African Communist Party and labour federation Cosatu.

The ANC, which is on a desperate drive to root out the manipulation of candidate nominations ahead of its elective conference in December, resolved that branch nominations for leadership positions must be sealed and sent directly to national leaders at the party’s Luthuli House headquarters, bypassing regional and provincial structures.

ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said this move is meant to get rid of “slate” politics – lists of members who are put forward by different factions for key leadership positions.

The lekgotla also focused on building the capacity of a “developmental state”, stressing a need to shift patterns of ownership in major industries, with the state acting as a driving force for change.

To this end, the ANC identified sections of the economy where it will instruct the government to intervene. These are:

Land

The ANC expects the land audit by Christopher Gavor, the valuer general in the department of rural development and land reform, to be completed soon and appears intent on redistributing land along “precolonial land patterns”. The party lekgotla agreed that this should be legislated.

Economy

The lekgotla resolved to implement a 2015 resolution from the party’s national general council on a proposed wealth tax. This will “enable stronger levels of infrastructure investment and skills development”.

Several chief executives have questioned the feasibility of such a tax since it surfaced three years ago.

With the South African Social Security Agency gripped by uncertainty over its grant distribution system, the lekgotla called on the telecommunications and postal services department to “fast-track the licensing of the Post Bank and ensure that it becomes the principal distributor of social grants”.

The ANC also wants the national minimum wage finalised and legislated before the end of the year. The National Economic Development and Labour Council is debating the level at which the minimum wage should be set and how it should be managed and reviewed.

The party wants the mining licence regime to be used to facilitate black economic empowerment deals and boost local procurement in the sector. It called on the state to pursue “industrialisation strategies, instead of depending on the export of natural resources or raw materials, with declining commodity prices”.

Local government

The party believes municipalities should be forced to implement the ANC’s national policies and programmes. In a statement, the party said there is a need for a “strong, overarching institutional centre that actively has the power to not only monitor and evaluate, but to also enforce policy adherence and programme implementation”.

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Govan Whittles

Govan Whittles is a general news and political multimedia journalist at the Mail & Guardian. Born in King William's Town in the Eastern Cape, he cut his teeth as a radio journalist at Primedia Broadcasting. He produced two documentaries and one short film for the Walter Sisulu University, and enjoys writing about grassroots issues, national politics, identity, heritage and hip-hop culture.

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