Who's Zumaing who?
Zuma takes charm offensive to the JSE
Michael Hamlyn | Cape Town, South Africa
31 January 2007 12:00
Continuing his charm offensive to reassure businessmen and the
investment community that his ascent to the leadership of the ruling
party signifies no threat to the economy, Jacob Zuma on Thursday faced
the bulls, bears and stags of the Johannesburg Securities Exchange.
He spoke at a luncheon organised by Jayendra Naidoo, chairperson of
Macquarie First South, and spoke about job creation, the fight against
crime, skilled immigration and the electricity crisis.
The African National Congress (ANC) president said that based on the
current economic forecasts, South Africa could expect to continue to
create many jobs, particularly for skilled workers.
"Thousands however, will remain unemployed, and this is the group we
must focus on," he said.
He told his audience that the ANC conference in Polokwane confirmed that
the creation of jobs must be the primary focus of economic policy
through targeted and direct interventions.
"Our development finance institutions and regulatory bodies need to be
sensitive to this objective," he said.
"In government procurement policies, industrial and trade policy
reforms, and in our macroeconomic policy stance, we need to be alive to
He also spoke of the need to consider fresh ideas to improve job
creation, for example, by the state helping young people to get their
first formal-sector job.
"By creating the right incentives for young people to be employed by
companies, young people can gain vital workplace skills, experience and
networks necessary for formal-sector employment," he said.
On skilled immigration, he said that South Africans had to come to terms
with the fact that the more skills in the economy, the more jobs could
"While we do the hard work to improve our education and skills outcomes,
which will take many years to accomplish, our government needs to ensure
that the economy has sufficient skills to expand," he said.
Business Against Crime lauded
Zuma said there was consensus that the level of crime in South Africa
was simply unacceptable. The Polokwane conference resolved to sharpen
the anti-crime campaign this year, Zuma said, and he praised the
business community for demonstrating what a difference concrete action
"The achievements of Business Against Crime, in its support for the
criminal justice system, are remarkable," he said.
"There are many innovations that have been introduced in prisons and
other criminal justice centres, through the work of Business Against
Crime. We applaud such patriotic duty."
He agreed that South Africans were concerned about the supply of
electricity. And he said, grimly, that there was no doubt that
investment in the sector should have been made earlier, and the reasons
for this failure would have to be addressed at a later stage.
But, he said, the investments were being made now. "Our government is
developing a national response plan which will introduce short-term
measures to balance the demand for energy with the supply, and this
while the work to bring more supply is fast-tracked as much as possible."
He said the electricity crisis was a turning point. "There will no doubt
be a cost to the economy in the short term," he said.
"But let us make this a positive turning point for South Africa's use of
electricity in the longer term. We have become accustomed to using
electricity very inefficiently and in a manner that is environmentally
Zuma said the need for an effective planning centre within government
was made even clearer by the electricity failure, as this problem was
clearly a failure of planning in the late 1990s, and he noted that the
ANC had called for the creation of an institutional centre for
government-wide economic planning, and uniform and high entrance
requirements for the recruitment of public servants. - I-Net Bridge
Zuma's WEF statements raise alarms for the Left
February 1, 2008
By Terry Bell
That ANC president Jacob Zuma used the opportunity of the annual World
Economic Forum (WEF) - which he described as "fabulous" - to underline
yet again that there would be no change in the government's economic
policy orientation, has caused considerable consternation in the ranks
of his supporters in Cosatu.
This is because the WEF was the forum where the ANC's long-held
interventionist and demand-led policies were first fudged in 1994.
The original macroeconomic framework, designed by the ANC's
macroeconomic research group, was dumped by then president Nelson
Mandela in the Swiss resort of Davos.
But the unions picked it up and, in 1996, produced their social equity
document months ahead of the government's supply-side, "trickle down"
macroeconomic strategy proposals made within Gear.
There seems to have existed some perhaps naive hope that Zuma, perceived
by many as a harbinger of a "turn to the Left" in the ANC, would at
least hint at a change in Gear when speaking in Davos.
But his praise for finance minister Trevor Manual and the claimed
economic achievements of government policies have seriously undermined
Zuma made his "no change" statements in Davos at a time when the
International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), to which South Africa's
union federations are affiliated, issued a scathing attack on such
policies. To ITUC president Sharon Burrow these statements, and their
consequences, were "the gorilla in the living room of globalisation".
She noted: "A massive rip-off of wealth is taking place, with a tiny
cohort of the world's richest people creaming off vast amounts of money
while incomes for the great bulk of the world's population are
stagnating or falling."
That "tiny cohort", of course, is made up of the members of the WEF.
According to its own literature, members of the forum comprise 1 000 of
the world's top companies "across all sectors".
Set up in 1971 by Swiss billionaire Klaus Schwab, it is a club of the
super-rich, which stages an annual circus where governments, politicians
and other leaders may be bribed, bullied and flattered into pursuing
policies that favour big business.
To quote economist John Maynard Keynes, this is a venue that seems to
promote the "extraordinary belief that the nastiest of men for the
nastiest of motives will somehow work for the benefit of us all".
But that is hardly how it appears. Under the slogan of "improving the
state of the world", media personalities, film and pop stars decorate
the event, ostensibly to deal with crises that unions maintain are
caused largely by the event's very sponsors.
However, it says something about the state of the world that a club of
the super-rich has come to be regarded as the prime venue for discussing
and deciding the shape of global, regional and industrial agendas.
At this year's WEF, the ITUC issued an official statement bewailing the
fact that the losers in the global marketplace were "the workers ... and
not the bailed-out bankers and financiers who triggered the crisis".
What the statement could have said, but did not, was that the very
bankers, financiers and companies the ITUC blamed for creating the
current economic crisis were its hosts: the members of the WEF. But
then, perhaps, it did not wish to seem churlish by biting the hands that
fed it so lavishly at Davos.
This seems to be the only hope - and a faint one at that - for concerned
Zuma supporters to cling to.