Delegates who attended the provincial economic summit over the weekend laughed a lot as the funny Mpumalanga Premier was tackling issues on the podium.
David Mabuza, tipped to be the next deputy president of the ANC when it holds its national elective congress next year, clearly is personable and commands a lot of authoritative influence over provincial and regional leaders of the ANC and its alliance partners in the Mpumalanga province.
He is referred to as “Zuma’s son” in ANC corridors and the “boss of the Premier League”.
Sources within the ANC over the weekend told 013NEWS that Mabuza was the only provincial leader to be given an ANC branded helicopter for the local government elections campaigns and that ‘signified’ he was now the kingmaker.
“He has been given the powers by Zuma to decide who takes charge after him. DD can now decide whether he wants to be the president or deputy president,” a source in the provincial executive committee of the ANC told 013NEWS on Saturday morning before going into the summit’s commissions.
“His team nationally is very strong and most members of the NEC are aware,” he said.
The chopper, written on the side, ‘Chairperson DD Mabuza is here’, was used by him to “save time and reach everywhere in one day”.
At the start of the provincial economic summit on Friday evening in Mbombela’s Nutting House lodge, provincial alliance leaders made presentations on behalf of the organisations they lead and Cosatu provincial deputy chairman Oupa Bodibe called on the alliance economic summit to take resolutions to ‘shut down’ the business of the Umbhaba Banana Estate owner, Roy Plath, who fired 300 banana farm workers late last year.
“Organising workers means a commitment must be made that we cannot tolerate the obstructions of the organisation of workers. Workers must be organised. Unlike the meeting I come from in Tonga today where those workers have been staying at home for the past 11 months, without any income, without any food and denied the right to a trade union or an opinion,” Bodibe told delegates.
“So when I left that meeting they said to me I must request this summit that Mpumalanga province must urge the national government to shut down the Umbhaba estate. Remember the owner has refused to meet the Premier, has refused to meet Cosatu and all stake-holders in our society ,” he said.
But when Mabuza took to the stage to address the summit, he said: “Listening to my partners here who have presented the problems, they say ‘this summit must do this, this summit must do that’. Just to correct there, comrades were supposed to say ‘we must do this’ because no one else will come with solutions other than all of us”.
“Now as the alliance we have fought hand in hand to usher in this political freedom that we are enjoying today, we pride ourselves that we have got a Constitution, we have got a state, we have got Constitutional institutions that were put in place, however we know we have not fulfilled certain places of our National Democratic Revolution, which is about economic freedom,” Mabuza said to a highly attentive summit attended by mayors, ministers, national and provincial executive committee members of alliance partners, media and businesspeople.
He then took a swipe at both credit rating agencies for “watching only South Africa” and the SACP for wanting to leave the alliance, asking “where are you going during this difficult time?”, having delegates in stitches.
“The challenges provincially and nationally include the sluggish economic growth leading to slow employment opportunities to our people and in certain areas we have lost jobs,” Mabuza said.
“The poverty level has grown, the inequality gap has grown and despite all the efforts to try and better the lives of our people but the negative happens.
“On another level, the state of our economy is under severe scrutiny and we are very careful that we might be rated or downgraded.
“We have also learnt that there are people that are rating us, looking at our problems, whether our country is too risky or what.
“You talk about Treasury, you talk about NPA wanting to talk to the Minister of Finance [Pravin Gordhan], the rand fluctuates,” the Premier said as delegates began to laugh a lot.
“And grading agencies are looking at us to say we are corrupt”.
He said the problems of the poor to get employment were affected “by a number of factors” and “we must agree that capital is now an active player in influencing transformation”.
“The state of being downgraded to a junk status means we have reached a useless stage, no one can trust you, no one can borrow you a cent. But ask yourself why only South Africa is being scrutinised and not our neighbouring countries? Because we are seen as a pillar and a player that can turn the situation around in Africa, therefore we are being scrutinised.
“Probably that’s a good thing but this state of being downgraded makes all of us very scared of attempting any new policy initiatives because you are at a point where you can make mistakes,” he said.
He said it was now high time that local businesspeople invest in their own economy than the opposite and then slammed those tenderprenuers who wanted benefits from the school feeding scheme and RDP houses, saying in cases where a builder was expected to put four bags of cement, the builder put one and “you think you are building that house for a dog?”
“Why do we think that there is somebody coming outside to invest here, where is our local businesspeople who must invest in their economy? No one is coming, we are on our own”.
He then said that he heard that the SACP in the province wanted to leave the ANC.
“Where are you going?” he said to laughter, “Hey, you can’t leave here, this is all our problems, not an ANC problem,” he said, adding people were now tired of internal fighting.
(edited by ZK)
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