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The ANC policy conference was not expected to produce any significant reorientation in the governing party’s plans, and in the end it did not. But that was the problem.

The recommitment to expropriation without compensation — emphasised by President Cyril Ramaphosa as something “that we must utilise” — signifies a reckless continuity with precisely the policy orientation that helped squander the prospects of a New Dawn windfall after his ascent to office.

Indeed, ANC economic transformation subcommittee chair Mmamoloko Kubayi indicated that there was a sentiment among delegates that even the amendment of section 25 of the constitution should be revisited.

Given the trauma the country has gone through over the past few years, which itself came on top of long-standing economic retardation, this should be well-nigh incomprehensible. Unfortunately, it is better explained as another illustration of the primacy of ideology over pragmatism, and of political over economic considerations.

This dynamic seems bound to continue to dog us. Recognising this, business, civil society and the country at large must think carefully about the likely futures that confront SA, and how best to respond.

The ANC’s worldview is unlikely to deliver the breadth of thinking that will produce the substantive reforms the country needs.

Terence Corrigan
Institute of Race Relations

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