Entering the second transition

The African National Congress will debate the idea of a “second transition” as the next step in South Africa’s democracy at its policy conference this week.

A document key to the discussions, “The Second Transition: Building a national democratic society and the balance of forces in 2012”, suggests that the ANC must now enter a second era of democracy.

According to the document, in the past 18 years the ANC has gone through a first transition into democracy, where it focused on political emancipation.

Now it needs to introduce a “second transition” that focuses on the social and economic transformation of South Africa in the next 30 to 50 years.

The second transition should achieve “rising per capita income, full employment, a Gini index target that demonstrates real and visible progress in reducing wealth and income inequalities, and visible progress in changing racial and patriarchal patterns of wealth and income”.

The paper suggests that during the negotiations to establish democracy in 1994, the ANC had to make compromises in the Constitution to keep the peace.

“This meant an implicit bargain, involving the ANC committing to macro-economic stability and international openness, and white business agreeing to participate in capital reform to modify the racial structure of asset ownership and to invest in national priorities,” according to the document.

“… Although we have liberalised and integrated into the global economy and we have macro-economic stability, the structure of the apartheid colonial economy has remained the same, and that in this form, it is incapable of fostering either higher or inclusive growth.”

This had led to a strong sense of injustice as the poorest, particularly those in rural areas, have suffered.

This was why the ANC had to “pay single-minded and undivided attention towards overcoming poverty, unemployment and inequality. This is what our second transition must be about”.

ANC president Jacob Zuma has promoted the idea of a “second transition”, but it has been rejected by the ANC Youth League and the SA Students’ Congress, as well as the ANC in Gauteng and Limpopo.

ANC deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe reportedly questioned the idea.

“Second transition! Second transition! Second transition! From what, from where to, where? What constituted the first transition? What were the tasks of that phase, have all those tasks been accomplished or not?” Business Day quoted him as saying on June 14.

According to the report, Motlanthe told a dinner in honour of late intellectual Harold Wolpe that the policy document was packed with “smatterings of Marxist jargon”.

The ANC will meet in Midrand for four days starting on Tuesday to discuss 13 policy documents ahead of its national conference in December.

The policy decisions made at the policy conference will then be discussed and finalised at the national conference in Mangaung, Free State, in December.

These policies will form the basis for the ANC government’s policies, new laws or amended laws. – Sapa

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