Cyril Ramaphosa Must Lead the ‘New Deal’

South Africa's current deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa.
File: South Africa's current President, Cyril Ramaphosa.

Thandisizwe Mgudlwa

Since white domination forced its way in 1652, the indigenous Black inhabitants of the country were to suffer under the oppressive laws of the Colonial regimes still democratic rule of 1994.

It was through the centuries of Struggle for Freedom that Black would finally be in a position to run and manage the affairs of their country.

Hence, no single political entity or liberation movement can have sole claim of leading the Freedom Struggle to liberation.

More so if you consider that about 20 million of the 55 million of South Africans are not in the mainstream of the economy despite the 17 million of the people on social grants .

On a high note however, with the advent of democracy in 1994, South Africa achieved legal equality.

Things have proved to be rather tricky for the African National Congress (ANC) led government as the country has from around 2003 experienced waves of violent protests for better services and the better life they were promised when the ANC came to power.

And with the stubborn unemployment stands at around 27.7%, shows that the road to prosperity for the Black majority is still a long way ahead.

In creating a  climate which will heal, stabilize, unite and give South Africa its total liberation and allow Ramaphosa to triumph if he becomes both presidents of the ANC and South Africa respectively. Ramaphosa must go back to the basics and create conditions for a ‘New Deal’. This would spearhead a process of creating a people’s driven ‘New Dream’ for the country, that is meant to ensure an inclusive society through mass community participation and involvement.

The revival of structures like the United Democratic Front (which consisted of more 700 organisations; the South African Congress of Trade Unions (SACTU), which was replaced by COSATU in 1985; Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa); National Council of Trade Unions (NACTU), Confederation of South African Workers’ Unions (CONSAWU), Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) and the South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU).

Ramaphosa must also reach out to the Black Consciousness Movement, Pan Africanist Congress (PAC), Azanian People’s Organisation (AZAPO), Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), United Democratic Movement (UDM), Congress of the People (COPE), Economic Freedom Fighter (EFF) and other forms of mass political, social and economic affiliations in the South Africa, the likes of the The South African NGO Coalition (SANGOCO), National Alliance For Non-Goverment Organisations (NANGOSA), Federation of the Urban and Rural Poor (FEDUP), Community Organisation Resource Centre (CORC), Informal Settlement Network (ISN), Alliance Organogram, Black First Land First (BLF), Black Management Forum (BMF), Black Business Council (BBC), AfriForum,  Solidary, AgriSA, including youth, women,  academia, civil society groups, NGOs, Community Based Organisation, religious and cultural groups, traditional leaders among other sectors, industries, institutions and organisations that make up the stakeholders of the country.

Importantly, all must be invited including those groups that refused to take past in the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA) in the early 1990 like the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AWB) and others.In short this will be at the level of  the Mass Democratic Movement (MDM).

In order for all this to come to life, Cyril Ramaphosa, on ascending to the ANC Presidency in a couple of days time, look in the interim basis until the national elections in 2019, to bring back the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) as a South African socio-economic policy framework.

The RDP was implemented by ANC government of Nelson Mandela in 1994 on coming to power, spearheaded by the ANC Ready to Government programme.

The RDP came into being after months of discussions, consultations and negotiations between the ANC, its Alliance partners the, Congress of South African Trade Unions and the South African Communist Party, and “mass organisations in the wider civil society.

The ANC’s chief aim in developing and implementing the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP), was to address the immense socioeconomic problems brought about by the consequences of the struggle against its predecessors under the Apartheid regime.

Specifically, it set its sights on alleviating poverty and addressing the massive shortfalls in social services across the country. This, was something that the document acknowledged would rely upon a stronger macroeconomic environment.

Achieving poverty alleviation, and a stronger economy were thus seen as deeply interrelated and mutually supporting objectives. Development without growth would be financially unsustainable.

While growth without development would fail to bring about the necessary structural transformation within South Africa’s deeply inequitable and largely impoverished population.

Hence, the RDP attempted to combine measures to boost the economy such as contained fiscal spending, sustained or lowered taxes, reduction of government debt and trade liberalisation with socially minded social service provisions and infrastructural projects.

And as commentators then remarked that in this way, the policy took on both socialist and neo-liberal elements, but could not be easily categorised wholly in either camp.

Facing this “deep-seated structural crisis of The Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) Policy Framework,the government attempted to put together a policy framework that could begin to address the variety of problems being faced economically.

The RDP White Paper, (which was presented to the Parliament of South Africa in 1994), identified economic, social, legal, political, moral, cultural and environmental problems that the country faced.

While the RDP White Paper outlined around six major principles that would guide and give substance to the remainder of the programme. The RDP would be integrated, well coordinated and a sustainable programme, to be conducted in and integrated amongst all three spheres of government, along with civil society, business companies and parastatals; the RDP would be ‘people-driven’.

Here, the programme noticed that development is not about the delivery of goods to a passive citizenry, it is about active involvement and growing empowerment.

In taking this approach the Government committed to build on the many forums, peace structures and negotiations that our people are involved in through the land. The RDP further attempted to play a role in ending the endemic violence within South Africa by embarking on a national drive for the peace and security of the country.

The Programme would also help to encourage investment, thus feeding back into the drive towards economic expansion and greater development; the commitment of all parties to the RDP would encourage the grand project of ‘Nation-Building’.

Moreover, the Programme noted, “We are a single country, with a single economy, functioning within a constitutional framework that establishes provincial and local powers, respect and protection for minorities, and a process to accommodate those wishing to retain their cultural identity. It is on the basis of our unity in diversity that we will consolidate our national sovereignty.”

Furthermore, the RDP would link growth, development, reconstruction, redistribution and reconciliation into an unified program, held together by a broad infrastructural programme that would focus on creating and enhancing existing services in the electricity, water, telecommunications, transport, health, education and training sectors.

And the programme said it would pay close attention to those economic factors inhibiting growth and investment and placing obstacles in the way of private sector expansion.

In addition, “The success of the first five principles would in turn facilitate the sixth, democratisation. Here the document made note of minority control and privilege within the economy as a major obstacle to the achievement of an integrated developmentally orientated economy. It also acknowledged that the people most affected by economic policy should participate in the decision-making, and that the government would also have to be restructured to fit the priorities of the RDP.”

South Africa still suffers from the legacy of colonial oppression and apartheid and this plays itself out through the many ills which include crime, violence be it political rivalry and inter-rivalry, farm murders, assassinations and killings, destruction of property to name a few. The The New Deal would need to focus on crafting a new path after diagnosing the ills and commit all stakeholders to work together towards the most glorious future for all South Africans. There’s has to be an on-going effort to welcome new players and other who could have missed out during the initial stages of the new programme, so that no group, industry, sector, orgnanisation, institution and structure in South Africa is left behind.

The emphasis is INCLUSIVENESS OF ALL.

It needs to be communicated clearly to all the country’s stakeholders that the ‘New Deal’ is not a ANC programme, but a South African programme designed by all stakeholders and structures that form South Africa for a New Beginning. A New Dream.