Worrying news about Jacob Zuma and the ANC in the UK’s Sunday Times. According to their man in Joburg, the ANC has “has veered sharply to the left” and is planning to stand on an election manifesto “largely dictated by the country’s Communist party”.
The man responsible for this dangerous shift is Gwede Mantashe, who the Times describes as a “firebrand” and more worryingly, “bearded”.
“Under his influence the ANC is expected to propose, in its as yet unpublished manifesto, the introduction of universal health insurance, free education, the extension of child allowances to all children up to the age of 18, new maternity grants, wage subsidies, an old age savings scheme, subsidised housing for farm workers and military veterans, free food handouts to all poor families, an expanded public housing programme and the “transformation” of the private sector through the “development of cooperative financial institutions”.
This is clearly dangerous stuff. Free education and old age pensions have been introduced to devastating effect by communist regimes like Britain and the US. That well-known commie Barack Obama plans to introduce universal health care in the US, while David Cameron, who hides his communist sympathies behind the cloak of Thatcherite economic policies, has promised to keep Britain’s NHS if he gains power.
There is a serious debate to be had over South Africa’s future economic direction, including the influence or otherwise of the South African Communist Party within the ANC and Mantashe’s role as secretary general. No one really knows where Jacob Zuma stands on a whole range of different issues. Here’s how the New York Times described him in a profile last September:
“…as Mr. Zuma has edged ever closer to South Africa’s presidency, his ideological underpinnings, if they exist at all, have remained opaque. Is he the pro-business capitalist who has reassured investors that “nothing will change”? Or does his heart lie with the trade unions and Communists, the base of his support? There is a third possibility, of course. It is that Mr. Zuma, as many here suggest, is the ultimate political chameleon, all things to all people, someone who senses what his audience wants to hear and then plays the right tune.”
I wrote a piece for Monocle at the end of last year which came to a similar conclusion. Of course, “Zuma is a bit of a chameleon” isn’t as exciting a headline as “Left seizes control of South Africa’s ANC”.