ANC division extends to coronavirus response

Long-standing divisions within South Africa’s political leadership over economic policy have spilled into its management of fallout from the coronavirus outbreak.

While finance minister Tito Mboweni has said the government could consider approaching the International Monetary Fund for assistance to fight the pandemic, senior ruling coalition officials rejected that option on the grounds that the nation’s sovereignty would be undermined.

South Africa’s right to determine its own policies “is non-negotiable, even in the midst of a crisis,” Ace Magashule, secretary-general of the ruling African National Congress, and Bheki Ntshalintshali, general secretary of Congress of South African Trade Unions, and Solly Mapaila, first deputy general secretary of the South African Communist Party, said in an emailed statement on Monday.

The three officials urged the central bank to play a bigger role in reviving the economy, which policy makers expect may contract as much as 4% this year.

They also urged the government to explore how to secure more sources of domestic funding, including tapping retirement funds.

There have been several reports in the local media that a faction within the ANC led by Magashule has been plotting to oust President Cyril Ramaphosa, who won control of the party by a thin margin in late 2017.

Magashule has denied the allegations. The faction has also clashed with Mboweni and the Reserve Bank Governor Lesetja Kganyago on economic policy decisions.

Read: Coronavirus claims another life in South Africa as cases climb to 1,686

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ANC division extends to coronavirus response