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Tony Twine is in for a surprise

Germany's biggest national business daily newspaper Handelsblatt asked the question this morning 'whether economic policy will make a jump to the left in the post-Mbeki era, and if, how big that jump will be'.

Two private sector economists and the DA were quoted. All three parties said there will be a jump to the left. But, and this is the important point, the two private sector economists guessed it would be a small jump to the left, while the DA warned a radical jump was on its way.

I'm afraid, this time around the private sector economists "het die pot misgesit", as they say in the classics on the other side of the Du Toitskloof.

Like the DA, I spent the vital first four years after 1994 in parliament, where I witnessed how it came that SA didn't get "populistic policies", but IMF-endorsed policies. I saw how arrogant and aggressive and cock-sure Cosatu was up to that vital day in 1996 when the private sector-friendly policy was published, how they were absolutely convinced that "their way" was going to happen, and I saw how angry, shocked and surprised Cosatu was when things didn't turn out the way they had expected them to, and how they withdrew their representatives from parliament from the very next day the 1996-document was published, and how they vowed to revenge this "betrayal of the workers".

In short, I know that SA was only spared the populist economic policies (propagated before 1994) for a short period. That period is about to end. The private sector economists are in for a big surprise.

I observed in parliament that SA got the policies it got, only thanks to a small number of senior politicians (lead by Nelson Mandela) and that this policy-selection was not supported by many outside this small group of (very influential) individuals. In short, free markets have never been "in the blood" of the majority of ANC supporters.

So, the direction taken after 1994 (and especially after 1996) was connected to a few leaders, the last of whom will be in retirement by next year. That's also when the last defences against "socialism" will fall.

Now, the article quoted the private sector economists as saying SA's economy cannot easily be "sosialized". I differ again. All that has to be done, is for prices to be fixed in a few sectors.

As the government is about to do in the health sector (where they want to prescribe to the private hospitals how much they may charge....with the result that Medi-Clinic effectively "emigrated" to Switzerland last December) and wants to do in the building sector, food sector, energy sector and a few others (take a look at the economic decisions taken at Polokwane in December last year).

(And what are Cosatu's efforts to prevent Tito Mboweni from raising the interest rates other than attempts to fix the prices banks charge for money?)

To devastate supply, dictate to suppliers how much they may charge for their products, without fixing their input costs. That's essentially what Mugabe did in Zim in the 90s. We all know how that experiment ended.

Nevertheless, that seems to be the way the "new" (really "old") ANC wants to go.

Here a section of the abovementioned article as it appeared in the Handelsblatt this morning. I'll translate, if anyone has the need. Ask me, I'm at e-mail: editor (at) ntsnn (dot) com

"Die Cosatu selbst plädiert seit Jahren für eine stärkere Intervention des Staates und höhere Sozialausgaben; letztere wollen die Gewerkschaften aus dem gegenwärtigen Haushaltsüberschuss finanzieren. Daneben wehrt sich die Gewerkschaft vehement gegen eine strikte Inflationsvorgabe. Offiziell hat die Zentralbank am Kap den Auftrag, die Teuerung in einer Spanne zwischen drei und sechs Prozent zu halten. Momentan liegt die Inflation mit 11,6 Prozent jedoch weit darüber. Dies hat die Zentralbank zu einer restriktiven Geldpolitik veranlasst, die bei den Gewerkschaften auf wenig Gegenliebe stößt.

Trotz des immer stärkeren Einflusses der Gewerkschaften auf die Wirtschaftspolitik des ANC rechnen namhafte Ökonomen nicht mit einem dramatischen Linksruck der Partei unter Zuma. "Ich sehe nicht, dass sich Südafrika auf eine Planwirtschaft nach Vorbild des früheren Ostblocks zubewegt", sagt Colen Garrow, Chefökonom beim Investmenhaus Brait. Allerdings erwartet er unter Zuma eine Wirtschaftspolitik mit stärker populistischen Elementen. Radikale Schritte wie die Gewerkschaften sie fordern, würden von den Finanzmärkten jedoch schnell bestraft. Zudem sei Südafrika bei seinem Wachstum sehr stark auf ausländische Investitionen angewiesen.

Auch Tony Twine vom Wirtschaftsberatungsinstitut Econometrix warnt vor einer Überreaktion auf die von den Gewerkschaften angeschlagenen radikalen Töne. Zwar habe am Kap vor 14 Jahren mit dem ANC eine im Herzen sozialistische Bewegung die Macht übernommen, doch habe er sich immer mehr in Richtung Sozialdemokratie entwickelt. Anders als der Agrarstaat Simbabwe verfüge Südafrika auch über eine starke industrielle Basis und sei viel stärker in die Weltwirtschaft integriert. Dies begrenze das Interventionspotenzial des Staates beträchtlich.

Weit weniger optimistisch zeigt sich die liberale Demokratischen Allianz (DA). Die offizielle Oppositionspartei befürchtet unter Zuma eine viel stärkere Interventionspolitik des Staates und die Etablierung einer strikten Planwirtschaft. Zum Beweis führt die DA die nun geplanten Landenteignungsgesetze an, die die Verstaatlichung von Farmland fast völlig in die Hände des Staates legen und ein Affront für weiße Farmer sind."
7.8.08 10:06
 


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