This column appeared on Business Day 13 October 2015
IN MIDRAND weather that was more Pretoria than Johannesburg, the African National Congress (ANC) got down to its mid-term policy review at the weekend. The economy was meant to feature prominently on its national general council meeting agenda.
From Enoch Godongwana’s briefing it is clear the ANC is deeply unhappy with the structure and performance of the economy. This reflects the slow pace of transformation but also the government’s inability to raise the economy’s productivity and competitiveness. As ever, the party is pressing ahead with initiatives to change the functioning of markets in private security, media, pharmaceuticals, mining, agriculture and property, to name a few. There is nothing inherently controversial in this to those who accept the need for an inclusive, mixed economy. These industries, like many others, are beset by challenges including concentration, limited black ownership, high prices or poor international competitiveness. So the ANC proposes to force changes in conduct or ownership or, more boldly, it sets up the state as a direct participant in the market. Moves to develop new state-owned corporations in mining and pharmaceuticals are well under way.
When I asked Godongwana how the party felt about progress on the National Development Plan (NDP), he admitted it was unsatisfied. But the party still wants to pursue a host of ambitious projects. The National Health Insurance (NHI), for instance, has to be fast-tracked.
I see three problems afflicting interventions in the economy: communication, coherence and capacity.
You can read the rest of the column at Business Day.