The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the African National Congress met in an ordinary meeting on Thursday, 27th July 2017. The meeting was called to prepare for the NEC Lekgotla which commenced the following day, Friday 28th July 2017 until Sunday 30th July 2017. The NEC Lekgotla is called twice per annum to assess progress in the implementation of policies and programmes of the ANC in the government it leads and to inform the planning and budgeting cycles of government.
The National Executive Committee received a presentation on the framework that would guide the work of the Lekgotla and a report from the National Working Committee (NWC) on the recent interactions the Working Committee has held with structures of the organization in the Western Cape Province. A briefing was also tabled on the ANC’s engagements with Botswana’s governing party, the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), on the ANC’s participation in the 55th Anniversary of the founding of the BDP which coincides with the 55th Anniversary of the Lobatse Conference.
The NEC was unanimous on the need for the NEC Lekgotla to focus its energies primarily on interventions to halt the economic decline that has led to negative GDP growth over two quarters. Outcomes of this process should be immediate interventions to deal decisively with unemployment – with special focus on youth unemployment and unemployed graduates – as well as measures to protect local labour and jobs. It sought to emerge with a strategy to assist the country recover from the ratings downgrades by, amongst others ,changing the low growth trajectory and enhancing the economy’s capacity to absorb new entrants to the labour market.
The NEC further directed the NEC Lekgotla to engage and come up with concrete proposals on the implementation of fee-free higher education for the working class and poor. Moving the National Health Insurance (NHI) from pilot phase to implementation, harnessing innovation and science as tools for economic development and growth as well as strengthening the capacity of state to deliver against the aspirations and resolutions of the African National Congress were also identified as key priority areas.
On the Western Cape, NEC received a report on the challenges currently confronting structures of the ANC in the province. These have been occasioned by, amongst other reasons, the Provincial Executive Committee’s (PEC) decision to dissolve the Regional Executive Committee (REC) of the Dullah Omar Region. Following this decision, four of the six regions in the Western Cape, convened a media briefing to object to the action taken by the PEC and the REC of Dullah Omar Region lodged an appeal with the NEC. The NWC took a decision to intervene in the province and consequently met with branches of the ANC across the province, followed by a joint meeting between the NWC and the PEC.
The report of the NWC painted a picture of the ANC structures in all the regions being deeply divided. Further that the PEC itself is weak and divided, however noted some positive aspects, in this regard being its youthfulness as well as its demographic and geographical diversity which has always eluded the Western Cape.
The National Executive Committee is of the view that there needs to be serious political investment in the Western Cape in order to realize our vision of regaining political power in that province in 2019. To this end, NEC resolved that the state of the PEC must be consistently monitored with the NEC providing support to the PEC for it to ably execute its responsibilities. Further, that the team of deployees to the Western Cape be reinforced and an intensive political education program be undertaken in the province. Finally, that the appeal of the Regional Executive Committee of the Dullah Omar Region against their dissolution be upheld and the REC re-instated. The NWC and NEC deployees will return to the Western Cape to engage structures on the way forward.
The NEC also adopted the proposal to form part of the celebration of the 55th Anniversaries of the formation of the BDP and the Lobatse Conference as part of the launch of our work to develop the Liberation Heritage Route in Botswana.
The NEC Lekgotla was the last one for this term of leadership elected at the 53rd National Conference in 2012 and was attended by members of the NEC, members of Cabinet, our Alliance Partners, the Leagues, other structures of the mass democratic movement and cadres deployed in various positions in the state. Its primary objective was to identify urgent priorities for government and to make proposals to guide the development of government’s 2018/2019 budget to be delivered in February 2018.
The Lekgotla commenced with the Political Overview delivered by the President, which was followed by two presentations, one on the priorities mandating Budget 2018 on the National Development Plan (NDP) and another on the economic and fiscal outlook presented by Comrades Jeff Radebe and Malusi Gigaba respectively.
The Lekgotla noted marked improvement in the attainment of the objectives set by the Mangaung Conference, specifically the following:
- Basic education is on an upward trend
- Enrolment in post school education and training has increased
- There is marked improvement in the health status of our people as reflected in enhanced life expectancy, reduced infant mortality, reduced maternal mortality , etc.
- Improved provision of basic services inclusive of electricity connections, potable water, sanitation and solid waste management not withstanding problems with quality and reliability of supply due to neglect of maintenance
- Sustained provision of social assistance to more than 17 million beneficiaries, alleviating acute poverty for poor households
Our biggest challenge remains the economy where growth has deteriorated and growth in GDP per capita has also declined. Unemployment has risen to a 14 year high at 27.7%, with the overall effect of these economic challenges being a loss of both business and consumer confidence. This has been compounded by the poor performance of the State Owned Companies (SOC) as a result of poor corporate governance and policy uncertainty.
The NEC Lekgotla discussed and endorsed the 14 point action plan developed by the Minister of Finance as a response to the recession. The 14 point plan elaborates on the 9 point plan for economic growth and is aimed at accelerating progress, coordinating government’s interventions and acting as an accountability mechanism for delivery. The plan is intended to reduce government’s contingent liabilities by reorganizing recapitalization and government guarantees. It proposes a number of broad reforms including developing a framework for private sector participation. Such participation will assist in improving the balance sheet of the affected SOCs and improve corporate governance. We have no doubt that implementation of this plan will go a long way in creating certainty and boosting confidence amongst stakeholders.
The Lekgotla further discussed the stalemate in the mining sector and its attendant effects on investment, growth and unemployment. Lekgotla tasked the ANC NEC Economic Transformation Sub-Committee to coordinate an approach that looks beyond the current dispute over the mining charter to focus on the future of the industry in its totality.
Lekgotla further resolved on a need for additional, concrete steps as being necessary to stimulate economic growth. In this regard, Lekgotla urged government reprioritize the current budget to focus on infrastructure development. This should be done without undermining fiscal consolidation and the expenditure limits.
- On Energy: Taking into account the electricity generation surplus, an electricity tariff dispensation that supports growth and labour intensive manufacturing sectors must be developed. Current phase of the Independent Power Producers (IPP) program must be finalized as a matter of urgency
- On Transport: Prioritisation of the Moloto Road and Rail Corridor and the N2 Wild Coast Road. It was further resolved on the need for a cogent strategy on the public transport system and the necessity of the review of the taxi industry with the intention to stabilize this important sector.
- On Water: Lekgotla noted that the construction of the Umzimvumbu Dam is critical for economic development in the Eastern Cape and called for government to speedily implement and conclude the project.
- On Youth Unemployment: Lekgotla was of the view that all our interventions must lay the foundation for a more inclusive economy that addresses the problem of unemployment. They must provide young people with opportunities to participate in the economy, integrating them into existing and new value chains, rebuilding, modernizing and expanding our industrial capabilities with the energy and ideas of young people. Lekgotla urged government to coordinate and assess the current initiatives including the Youth Entrepreneurship Support (YES) campaign, the Expanded Public Works Program (EPWP) and provide guidance and support for maximum impact.
Lekgotla also resolved to intensify support measures for the agricultural sector in particular small scale famers. Amongst other interventions, Lekgotla agreed on the need for immediate measures to stem the jobs bloodbath in the retail, furniture and textile industries amongst others. Incentivising industries that create jobs and de-monopolising the banking industry and broadcasting sector remain key priorities.
Lekgotla further called on government to set up of a Commission on the Fourth Industrial Revolution by December 2017. This Commission must be tasked with the development of a national strategy to leverage the opportunities offered by technological advancement and disruption while seeking measures to mitigate against its negative consequences. On the State Bank, the Lekgotla noted progress made to transform the Post Bank into a fully fledged bank and reiterated the ANC policy position that Post Bank must be used as the bank of first choice by government for its banking services and any transactions with the citizens. Government should develop adequate capacity, in particular for Postal outlets in rural areas, to effectively undertake this role.
Lekgotla was resolute on the need to continue to encourage the creation of new businesses, cooperatives and the expansion of small businesses by reducing the costs of compliance with government regulations, making it easier for companies to do business with government. Government must pay its invoices on time and strengthen the role of our development finance institutions. Lekgotla also called on government to develop policy to establish parameters on employment ratios between South African citizens and foreign nationals in locally owned business as is currently the case with foreign owned businesses operating in the country. Government must also expedite the implementation of a National Identity System that will be linked to an integrated immigration system so that the identity, civil and immigration status of all citizens and all persons in South Africa is known and secure.
The National Executive Committee had called on Lekgotla to come up with concrete proposals on fee free higher education taking into account the ANC’s stated commitment to ensuring that all financially needy and academically deserving students, whether poor, working class or middle class, can access loans and bursaries in order to gain entry to university and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Colleges without paying upfront fees at the point of entry.
Being cognizant that the Heher Commission has until 31 August 2017 to submit its report on the feasibility of fee free higher education and training, the NEC Lekgotla resolved to introduce the following measures that should be integrated into the final work of the Commission. These measures will cover all first year students for first time enrolment with effect from 2018:
- Fully subsidised grants should be provided to academically qualifying poor students. Poor students are defined as coming from families who earn a gross family income of R150 000 and below per annum
- Academically capable students from working class and middle strata families, currently defined as families who earn a gross family income from R150 000 up to R600 000 per annum, should be subsidised through a combination of grants and income contingent affordable loans, with their families providing a household contribution to their studies in proportion to their ability to pay.
Students will be required to maintain adequate academic performance and failure to do so would lead to disqualification.
Lekgotla resolved on the need to move the National Health Insurance (NHI) Scheme from pilot phase to implementation, with due regard to the current funding challenges. Accordingly, called on government to factor in the required funding over the next three years, with primary focus being on covering the following targeted groups:
- School children experiencing barriers to learning
- Pregnant women
- The elderly
- Mental health services and
- People with disabilities
The scourge of corruption is a threat to economic development. To consolidate the country’s efforts in fighting corruption, the discussion paper on the Integrated Anti-Corruption Strategy has been launched. The Anti-Corruption Task Team has finalized with its operational strategy and forged a working alliance with the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) to advance our collective efforts to fight corruption.
The African National Congress welcomes recent announcements and action by law enforcement agencies as well as Parliament to investigate allegations of corruption.
The detailed NEC Lekgotla Bulletin containing all resolutions of the Lekgotla will be publicly released in the next few weeks.
The ANC sends its heartfelt condolences to the families of the football lovers who lost their lives during a stampede at the FNB Stadium this past weekend. We call on government to urgently conclude the Commission of Enquiry into this tragedy so that the country may draw important lessons to ensure this calamity never befalls us again.
African National Congress
Zizi Kodwa 082 330 4910