ANC, alliance partners 'reject' getting funding from IMF or World Bank to fight Covid-19

06 April 2020 - 18:18 By Andisiwe Makinana
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ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule has issued a statement with the SACP's Solly Mapaila and Cosatu's Bheki Ntshalintshali rejecting suggestions that SA may turn to the IMF or the World Bank.
ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule has issued a statement with the SACP's Solly Mapaila and Cosatu's Bheki Ntshalintshali rejecting suggestions that SA may turn to the IMF or the World Bank.
Image: Simphiwe Nkwali

The ANC and its alliance partners have rejected any suggestion that SA may turn to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) or the World Bank for funding to fight the coronavirus, which threatens to drag the country's economy deeper into recession.

The secretariat of the alliance — made up of the secretaries of the ANC, SA Communist Party (SACP) and Cosatu — also indirectly lashed out at finance minister Tito Mboweni for speaking out of turn and, perhaps, without consulting the governing party and its alliance partners.

The three secretaries — the ANC's Ace Magashule, the SACP's first deputy secretary Solly Mapaila and Bheki Ntshalintshali of Cosatu — appeared to take issue with Mboweni.

Without mentioning him by name, they said pronouncements that may subordinate the country's sovereignty to the dictates of the IMF underscored the importance of a coherent message from the ANC and its deployees.

This is the second time this year that Mboweni has been rapped over the knuckles for his comments. In January, the ANC admonished him for his tweets on the nationalising the Reserve Bank.

“The secretariat is very concerned by the suggestions, conveyed through the minister of finance, that South Africa should approach the IMF or the World Bank for ‘assistance’," said the secretariat in a  statement.

“The suggestion is rejected. Instead, the secretariat reaffirms the need to safeguard South Africa’s democratic national sovereignty, the fundamental right to self-determination [and] our independence — which are non-negotiable, even in the midst of a crisis.

“Our struggle for liberation and social emancipation fought for the achievement of these rights and their strict protection in a democratic South Africa.”

The statement was signed by Magashule, Mapaila and Ntshalintshali.

The alliance secretariat also expressed concern regarding the impact of the pandemic on state-owned enterprises — SAA and Eskom in particular — and urged consultation in the finalisation of the SAA business rescue plan, which has now been extended to May 29 2020.

Mboweni told the Sunday Times last week that South Africa may approach the IMF and World Bank for funding to fight the coronavirus.

“This morning in a conversation with the Reserve Bank and the Treasury, I indicated that we should proceed and speak to the IMF and the World Bank about any facility that we can access for health purposes,” Mboweni was quoted as saying.

The secretariat called upon the Reserve Bank to play a vigorous developmental role towards the turnaround of the economy.

“The Reserve Bank can fulfil this mandate directly and indirectly in collaboration with public development finance institutions in consultation with the National Treasury, as provided for in our constitution,” it said.

The secretariat said the government should evaluate and explore all sources of domestic finance, including industrial retirement funds, as well as policy instruments to tap into the resources in a mutually beneficial manner to turn South Africa around — in the interests of all the people, especially the working class and poor, the overwhelming majority.

To the extent that it is necessary, the government should explore approaching the New Development Bank established by Brics, they said.

“In the same vein, consideration should be made to strengthen bilateral co-operation and mutually beneficial assistance with China and Russia in the areas of finance, industry, science and technology, as well as with regard to the supplies needed to win the war against Covid-19,” the statement continued.

“Any terms involved in such co-operation and assistance must be clearly understood, negotiated and consulted on with social partners, and none should undermine our democratic national sovereignty.”

The secretariat also took issue with the Treasury postponing the allocation of resources for National Health Insurance (NHI) implementation and called for an urgent review of this decision.

“A successful national response to the pandemic will require of us as a nation to marshal all available health care resources in the face of a national state of disaster.”

The alliance secretariat met last Thursday to discuss the coronavirus and its impact on South Africa and the economy. It expressed support for the measures announced by the government aimed at containing the spread and ensuring treatment for all affected.

“The alliance is encouraged by, and commends, the positive response by the millions of our people who have heeded the call to stay home and responded to the injunction: 'Protect yourself, defend each other, let’s do this together'.”

They also welcomed “the inclusive and consultative manner” in which the government, under the leadership of President Cyril Ramaphosa, had brought together a broad range of social forces — the government, labour, business, civil society, faith-based communities, traditional leaders, and many others.

“The alliance emphasises the importance of government consulting labour within the framework of the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) and other mechanisms of social dialogue.

“The Covid-19 pandemic affects the entire world. As a member of the UN Security Council and chairperson of the African Union, South Africa has a special responsibility to provide leadership in the regional, continental and international response to the pandemic.”

The alliance commended Cuba for the assistance it has offered to South Africa.

“Government should accept the solidarity medical support offered by Cuba and in turn seek to strengthen Cuban capacity and collaboration with Cuba,” said the secretariat.

The alliance secretaries urged the government to ensure water and sanitation wereprovided to  poor communities, especially informal settlements and rural areas.

Food security should be ensured and spaza or tuck shops and informal traders should be allowed to operate in conditions consistent with the nationwide lockdown and regulations put in place in terms of the national disaster law.

Furthermore, they said consideration should be given to ways in which the taxi industry, which transports an overwhelming number of workers and community members, can be supported.

The alarming reports of an increase in gender-based violence during the lockdown required an urgent and concerted action — not only by law-enforcement agencies but also by the government and society in general, they added.

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