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Zuma’s Economic Policies Concern South African Investors

Investors in South Africa are reportedly concerned about the economic policies former Deputy President Jacob Zuma would implement if elected this month as leader of the ruling African Nations Congress (ANC) party. They fear the former deputy president would tow the line of leftist Venezuelan President Hugo Chaves, or Brazilian President Luiz Lula da Silva. Jacob Zuma is overwhelmingly favored to become the president of the party after taking a commanding lead in a recent provincial election.

Traditionally, the leader of the ANC becomes the national president, due to the massive grassroots support the party enjoys. Some political observers believe his strong showing effectively thwarts South African President Thabo Mbeki’s unprecedented third term bid to be the leader of the ANC.

From Johannesburg political analyst Aubrey Matshiqi tells reporter Peter Clottey investors’ fears are unfounded.

“Uncertainty and concern are an unavoidable part of any period of transition. The ANC is going through a transition from the presidency of Thabo Mbeki possibly to that of Jacob Zuma. In other words, the possibility is that there is going to be a transition from Thabo Mbeki to Jacob Zuma at the level of the state, and that kind of transition unavoidably has got to cause some uncertainty and some concerns,” Matshiqi noted.

He said the investors are not basing their concerns on what he described as levelheaded cold facts.

“A lot of the concerns I think are not based on facts. It is also not based on understanding Jacob Zuma’s policy orientation. It is also not based on understanding how the ANC crafts policies because if you go back to June when the ANC had its national policy conference and adopted policies that confirmed Mbeki’s economic policy trajectory, it is very clear to me that there is very little to be concerned about,” he said.

Matshiqi said the investors are not being fair to Zuma after the former deputy president was suspiciously viewed as having leftist tendencies, which the investors claim to be concerned about.

“I think many of those investors who share those concerns have fallen victim to personal prejudices, parading as cold analysis, because I cannot point at anything which suggests that Zuma is going to shift ANC policies towards the left. Now, parties supported by the left have no ideological basis; the left supports him because of the kind of relationship the left has had with Thabo Mbeki. In other words, the left has become part of the anti-establishment in power to the extent that Mbeki represents the establishment, that they are opposed to by the left,” Matshiqi pointed out.

He said it was incorrect for investors to level suspicion against Zuma because of the support the former deputy president enjoys from the trade unions.

“Firstly, the ANC is in alliance with the Congress of South African Union (COSATU) and the South African Communist party. Now, if these are genuine concerns, these concerns would have applied to Mbeki, too, who is a leader of an ANC that is in alliance with communists and unions, and that is why I’m saying that to some extent, what we are dealing with is self-deluding analysis, an analysis that is not based on facts, and partly analysis that is based on personal prejudices,” he said.

(English to Africa 12-07-07)