The economy is on fire. That’s the general mood amongst analysts and business pundits. It seems the South African economy has had to contend with one setback after another and with elections close by, the ANC is determined to put its best foot forward and reassure the country that all is not lost. At this past weekend’s lekgotla, the governing party made a commitment to set-up a presidential task force to focus on resolving the country’s economic woes.
This isn’t the first push by the ANC to tackle the economy, the ANC-led tripartite alliance with Cosatu and the SA Communist Party (SACP) that was to develop and implement a National Development Plan (NDP) has stuttered to a mysterious halt, allegedly because the three just can’t get along. More talking is evidently needed, which eventually leads to less action being taken. With little movement on this front, the ANC will be motivated to identify other solutions such as the above mentioned task force to show the nation that the economy has not been forgotten.
It could be too little too late, as the political piranha season is now in full swing, and one year may not be enough to convince South Africans that the ANC can do the job. The nation has seen the prices of commodities go up, the value of the Rand dragged through the mud and foreign direct investment take a hit, let’s not forget low rates of job creation and nasty labour disputes.
The opposition is planning to go to town on Mr. Zuma’s party’s ability to manage and increase the country’s coffers, the average man on the street is disgruntled and disillusioned and some believe that the ANC is losing its post-independence luster. The adage “It’s the economy, stupid” is going to be a major campaign issue in the 2014 elections and with the ANC having run the show for the past 20 years, all the opposition has to do is kick back and throw mud, and there’ll be plenty of it.
With the count-down to the elections having started and finger pointing abounding, the ANC will be at a loss at who to point the finger at for the disarray in the economy. Whether they can scramble a response to the opposition mud-slinging in time and not lose ground on the economy during the next elections is yet to be seen. Being the party that led the nation to independence may not be enough to win over South Africans this time around, this time “money in the bank” will be everyone’s focus.