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ANC rejects calls on mines

Source: Fin24 Date: 01 October 2010

Durban - The ruling African National Congress has rejected calls from its governing alliance partners to weaken the rand or nationalise mines, a top official said on Tuesday at the ANC’s national general council (NGC) meeting.

But the ANC will at least discuss the merits of nationalising mines during closed-door sessions. “We will debate it,” ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe told reporters, adding that any decision would not come before the ANC’s next major political gathering in 2012, when it also elects its leaders. There had been speculation that President Jacob Zuma could try to adopt left-leaning policies proposed by allies including the powerful labour federation Cosatu to help mend strained relations with the group and firm up his popular support. Zuma risks leaving the meeting in a weakened position if he cannot win back traditional supporters on the left or find new ones among the pro-business ranks in the divided ANC, and that could hurt him over the remainder of his term expiring in 2014. The ANC has rebuffed a call from Cosatu to drastically devalue the rand, with Zuma saying at the meeting he wants the currency to remain stable and competitive. Mantashe said: “We want a competitive currency that makes the economy of South Africa (perform) in a balanced way. A strong rand works against exports, a weak rand kills imports.”

The central bank and the South African government have worried about the impact of a strong rand on exports and manufacturing. The rand hit a two and a half year high of 7.0540 against the dollar last week and has gained around 25% since the start of 2009. The rand’s advances have given rise to calls for the government to take steps to weaken the currency. Postal bank and media watchdog Delegates said the ANC was unlikely to make any major moves regarding Africa’s largest economy due to factional discord and Zuma’s consensus-building style that has resulted in slow government action and little policy change. “We remain divided on the monetary policy instruments, for example, interest rates policy, inflation targeting, exchange controls and the most appropriate policy framework to effectively deal with the challenge of high unemployment,” said a party report on the status of issues addressed at the meeting.

Government may consider giving the postal bank a full banking licence, Mantashe said, a move that could increase competition in the banking industry. The Post Bank now offers savings accounts and investment products, but does not offer a full-range of retail banking. A full banking licence could help it attract millions more without bank accounts. Delegates to the conference said there seemed to be agreement on an ANC proposal to set up a media tribunal to punish what it sees as unscrupulous reporting. The idea has been criticised at home and abroad as a gambit to muzzle free press. “We will have some sort of media tribunal but it will have strong regulatory features. It won’t be selected only by political parties,” said Jeremy Cronin, a senior ANC adviser who is the deputy secretary general of the South African Communist Party, part of the governing alliance.

Durban - The ruling African National Congress has rejected calls from its governing alliance partners to weaken the rand or nationalise mines, a top official said on Tuesday at the ANC’s national general council (NGC) meeting.

But the ANC will at least discuss the merits of nationalising mines during closed-door sessions. “We will debate it,” ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe told reporters, adding that any decision would not come before the ANC’s next major political gathering in 2012, when it also elects its leaders. There had been speculation that President Jacob Zuma could try to adopt left-leaning policies proposed by allies including the powerful labour federation Cosatu to help mend strained relations with the group and firm up his popular support. Zuma risks leaving the meeting in a weakened position if he cannot win back traditional supporters on the left or find new ones among the pro-business ranks in the divided ANC, and that could hurt him over the remainder of his term expiring in 2014. The ANC has rebuffed a call from Cosatu to drastically devalue the rand, with Zuma saying at the meeting he wants the currency to remain stable and competitive. Mantashe said: “We want a competitive currency that makes the economy of South Africa (perform) in a balanced way. A strong rand works against exports, a weak rand kills imports.”

The central bank and the South African government have worried about the impact of a strong rand on exports and manufacturing. The rand hit a two and a half year high of 7.0540 against the dollar last week and has gained around 25% since the start of 2009. The rand’s advances have given rise to calls for the government to take steps to weaken the currency. Postal bank and media watchdog Delegates said the ANC was unlikely to make any major moves regarding Africa’s largest economy due to factional discord and Zuma’s consensus-building style that has resulted in slow government action and little policy change. “We remain divided on the monetary policy instruments, for example, interest rates policy, inflation targeting, exchange controls and the most appropriate policy framework to effectively deal with the challenge of high unemployment,” said a party report on the status of issues addressed at the meeting.

Government may consider giving the postal bank a full banking licence, Mantashe said, a move that could increase competition in the banking industry. The Post Bank now offers savings accounts and investment products, but does not offer a full-range of retail banking. A full banking licence could help it attract millions more without bank accounts. Delegates to the conference said there seemed to be agreement on an ANC proposal to set up a media tribunal to punish what it sees as unscrupulous reporting. The idea has been criticised at home and abroad as a gambit to muzzle free press. “We will have some sort of media tribunal but it will have strong regulatory features. It won’t be selected only by political parties,” said Jeremy Cronin, a senior ANC adviser who is the deputy secretary general of the South African Communist Party, part of the governing alliance.

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