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Sat Mar 07 02:08:44 SAST 2015

Investors take some comfort from ANC's new clarity on policy

Editorial | 21 December, 2012 00:00

THE economy, already weakened by the eurozone crisis, has in recent months been blitzed by a series of devastating strikes in the mining sector, downgradings by international ratings agencies, fears about the nationalisation of mines and other sectors, and a weakening rand.

But in just a few days some of the gloom has lifted as a result of the resolutions adopted at the ANC national conference in Mangaung.

The rand bounced back, partly thanks to the election as ANC deputy president of Cyril Ramaphosa. The business tycoon has played an important role in promoting the National Development Plan, the most coherent blueprint for South Africa's economic growth.

Investors and the broader public will draw confidence from the knowledge that a pragmatist and master negotiator such as Ramaphosa seems destined for a cabinet post. Suddenly there's a belief that Trevor Manuel's plan might shake off its status as a contested policy document and be implemented.

Also encouraging is the fact that the ANC says it has finally taken nationalisation off the table as an option for the mining sector, though it does not rule out "strategic state ownership where deemed appropriate".

What seems certain, though, is that the mining industry will have to labour under a new tax regime, including, possibly, export taxes on strategic minerals - a measure aimed at promoting local manufacturing.

Also encouraging is the fact that the ruling party insists that discussions about the youth wage subsidy - vehemently opposed by its alliance partner, union federation Cosatu - and other measures to reduce youth unemployment will continue.

The ANC has gone some way towards paving the way for more policy certainty.

But the jury will remain out until ways can be devised to avoid a repetition of this year's crippling strikes.

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