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Economic Codesa needed for radical economic transformation - BMF

Apr 20 2017 17:52
Liesl Peyper

Cape Town – South Africa’s Codesa negotiations neglected radical economic transformation and the country therefore needs to revisit the matter, said Mncane Mthunzi, president of the Black Management Forum (BMF) on Tuesday. 

Mncane was part of a panel discussion hosted by the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business (GSB) with radical economic transformation as the topic. 

During question time, after the speakers’ introductory remarks, calls were made for an economic Codesa (Convention for a Democratic South Africa) to address the country’s economic problems, including inequality, poverty, unemployment, but above all lack of transformation. 

READ: An economic Codesa? 

The Codesa negotiations that took place in December 1991 involved 19 groups and parties, including the ANC, the now-defunct National Party, the Inkatha Freedom Party, the Democratic Party (which is now the Democratic Alliance) and the SA Communist Party.

“When Codesa took place the issue of radical economic transformation was neglected,” Mncane said. “Yes, we need to go back and deal with it. If we don’t, there’ll be more Marikanas and land grabs.” 

He added that the Marikana massacre – which took place in August 2012 when police gunned down 34 striking mineworkers – was not about a strike about a salary increase of R12 500 per month. “It was really about the structural issues we have in our economy that we’ve never dealt with.”

Another panellist, Nqabayomzi Kwankwa, president of the United Democratic Movement (UDM) and a Member of Parliament, said although there had been a “settlement” during the Codesa situations it can’t be cast in stone. 

READ: 'Radical economic transformation needs a blueprint'

“Remember, we’re a different generation today. There are different challenges and each generation needs to identify its own set of challenges and deal with them. We can’t keep talking about the Codesa settlement that took place in 1994,” Kwankwa said. “If we think we can address today’s challenges with a former settlement it means we’re not doing any contextual analysis.” 

The third speaker on the panel, Sean Gossel, expressed doubt whether something like an economic Codesa would serve a purpose. 

“I have a problem with that. You have people who are already on the inside, who have assets and equity and power. What right do they have to speak on behalf of those who are still living under the circumstances of social justice?” 

Gossel said politicians (who would play a leading role in negotiations, such as an economic Codesa) claim they speak for the poor, but they don’t really. “They’re speaking for the urban middleclass.” 

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