WATCH | Mantashe sets out four-point plan to revive Eastern Cape economy

10 February 2020 - 14:23 By SOYISO MALITI
ANC chair Gwede Mantashe revealed plans for an energy complex in the Eastern Cape to produce bottled liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) for clean cooking.
ANC chair Gwede Mantashe revealed plans for an energy complex in the Eastern Cape to produce bottled liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) for clean cooking.
Image: Sunday Times/Simphiwe Nkwali

The ANC told a swanky dinner attended by business people bearing hundreds of thousands of rands for the party’s coffers that they had a four-point plan to revive the Eastern Cape economy.

Guests at the gala dinner at Olivewood Private Estate & Golf Club in Chintsa West on Friday night were also told that a ministerial team had been set up to sort out the Butterworth water crisis.

They were also given an update on the massive Mzimvubu Dam, as well as a "business overview" of the ANC.

The conference room was flanked by spotlights in ANC colours as party heavyweights strolled in on a red carpet, some taking pictures before tucking into a starter followed by steak, reported DispatchLIVE.

The keynote speaker, ANC chair Gwede Mantashe, proposed a four-point plan to turn around the provincial economy:

  1. An energy complex in Komga producing bottled, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) that can be used for clean cooking.

  2. Conversion of diesel turbines to gas turbines in Coega.

  3. The capture, storage and use of carbon in the Moltino-Indwe coal fields, spanning Aliwal North, Indwe, Cala and Maclear.

  4. Experimenting with biofuels at abandoned sugarcane farms in Cradock.

Mantashe said party members were competing for resources in the province.

“A focused Eastern Cape is a better Eastern Cape. [Premier Oscar] Mabuyane does his level best, but sometimes he is alone,” he said.

He warned the business sector: “If you treat us like nightwatchmen for business, nothing is going to happen. Government is a partner.”

Turning to party politics, Mantashe said the provincial ANC was prone to deliberate attempts to undermine it. 

“Julius [Malema] once told us straight to our faces: ‘A united Eastern Cape is a threat - you must divide it’. That was a reality then; it’s a reality today.

“Anybody who wants to divide the ANC comes here and they find fertile ground.”

Speaking on the water crisis, human settlements, water and sanitation minister Lindiwe Sisulu said: “I do know we have a problem at eGcuwa ... I have committed myself to bringing a team here under the Amatola water board to make sure we are able provide as much support as possible.

“The premier and I have wanted to persuade the lekgotla to finally accept that it is possible for us to start working on the Mzimvubu Dam.”

She said Mabuyane had been relentless in his attempts to get the project off the ground, even writing to the president and asking that it be prioritised. 

She said the project would produce hydroelectric power, allowing a whole area to be independent from Eskom.

“It has taken the government 58 years to be able to start work on Mzimvubu, but now we’re going to be able to start work.”

The project would turn the surrounding areas into a “greenhouse of agriculture".

"What it will do for job opportunities will be incredible. We will be able to sustain this province from that project,” she said.

MTN chair and former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas said the party’s collective intelligence had degenerated.

Wealth was still largely in white hands, he said. “This rests on our inability to engage private capital in a coherent way.”

He credited the party with succeeding in engaging business in labour relations, but said it had dismally failed in “the core of transforming power relations”. He said if the ANC tackled this crisis head on, it would overcome internal strife.

Jonas also questioned the leadership of the provincial ANC. “Historically, in the SA struggle, the Eastern Cape has a place. We’ve always been at the centre, driving the national struggle. I doubt we can say the same today," he said.

“As a movement, our growth has not been politically managed. We've grown in numbers, but politically I doubt we can say the same. We have not grown politically in terms of clarity of purpose and political maturity.

“I’ll leave the leadership with one message: I think we need to focus on building unity in the province and ensuring that we provide direction to the country as a whole.”

Mabuyane, responding to Jonas, said: “In the Eastern Cape there is leadership and the province is led. I’ve been around. I've seen things. I agree that from a political education point of view, there is a lot to be done to improve our political consciousness and leadership.”