ANC shies away from endorsing the sale of state assets

South Africa’s ruling party approved a range of proposals to revive economic growth, but stopped short of endorsing Finance Minister Tito Mboweni’s controversial plan to sell some state assets.

There was “broad consensus” among members of the African National Congress’s National Executive Committee about the challenges the nation faces and that business and labour need to play a greater role in fostering growth, Ace Magashule, the party’s secretary-general, told reporters in Johannesburg on Wednesday.

It was agreed the country needs to invest more in infrastructure, produce more renewable energy and fix ailing state companies, he said.

The government is seeking to speed up reforms as business confidence slides and disquiet grows among investors about the deteriorating state of the government’s finances and the threat debt-stricken power utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. poses to the economy.

A plan for fixing Eskom is still a work in progress and should be finalised by month-end, said Enoch Godongwana, the ANC’s head of economic transformation.

Mboweni suggested in a policy paper released in August that the utility’s entire debt of R450 billion ($29.5 billion) could be settled by selling off coal-fired power plants — an option opposed by the ANC’s labor-union allies.

When asked for clarity about possible asset sales, Magashule repeated his statement that it was agreed that “models of worker and social ownership” will be considered.

Other measures agreed to by the ANC include:

  • Energy, transport and telecommunications need to be modernised and become more competitive
  • Costs and barriers to entry for small business need to lowered
  • Growth in industries that create jobs, including agriculture, tourism, clothing and mining, need to be prioritised
  • Industrial and trade policy need to be refocused to promote competitiveness.

Read: SA finance minister questions need to hold onto state assets

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ANC shies away from endorsing the sale of state assets