The ANC government will have no choice but to work with business and other social partners in revisiting and ensuring proper implementation of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan (ERRP) if its socioeconomic promises made ahead of the elections are to be realised.
On Thursday evening, former president Thabo Mbeki was addressing business and professionals as part of the governing party’s stakeholder engagement and preparations for the upcoming November 1 municipal elections.
The former president said the party had made a number of commitments in its election manifesto and that it had to ask itself questions about who was going to foot the bill.
“When we promise that we will deliver water, roads, clinics and schools, and deal with sewage, we must mean that the resources will be there to do that,” he said.
Mbeki pointed out that while social compact between government, business, labour and civil society which resulted in the ERRP was being driven by the national government, it was central in municipalities being able to secure resources to fulfil the electoral promises made by the party.
He, however, lamented that the ERRP, which was devised last year to counter the economic damaged caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, had never resulted into a workable plan and that government had ignored a three-year strategy proposed by business last year which would have resulted in R3.4-trillion being invested into the economy, of which R1-trillion would come from business.
“Part of the tragedy is that since then, the social partners have not kept that commitment, to work together to produce a plan which will be implemented and take this country away from this terrible past which is today impacting millions of our people with poverty and unemployment,” he said.
This was not the first time Mbeki criticized the ten-year ERRP in its current form as he branded it a vision and not an implementable plan compared to the one proposed by the business sector.
“The figures produced by business about what is likely to happen if we implement their plan, they are better,” he said.
He pointed out that ANC had made the commitment in its manifesto to forge a compact with social partners to address the socioeconomic issues at local government.
“We must get together as social partners and produce these monies to invest in this economy because, in the context of local government, if we don’t do that these commitments will not happen,” Mbeki said.
He told business leaders and professionals in attendance that the ANC’s renewal process and the opening up of its selection processes for councillor candidates to communities were aimed at ensuring that those who were chosen to manage public given resources were upstanding individuals and not thieves.
Mbeki said the quality of the membership of the ANC had degenerated over the years and negatively affected the party, which he said the ANC was busy fixing in order to regain public trust.
“It is going to be a very painful process because there are people who are good at ‘toytoying’, and singing ANC songs, but are not ANC [members], and the problem with that is that this becomes a national problem,” he said.
Mbeki stressed that SA could not afford the destruction of the ANC as what happened to it affected the country as a whole.
“The ANC is too big to fail, because if it fails, the country will collapse. It will fail and that is the problem,” he said.