Slapping down members’ demands for mine nationalisation, the seizure of white-owned farms and a supertax on business, party leaders railroaded through a distinctly pro-business message.
Wholesale nationalisation was said to be “off the table,” the language on taxes was vague and there was a similarly opaque promise to move forward on land reform.
Worse for the left, President Jacob Zuma threw his weight behind the much criticised National Development Plan, which would thoroughly modernise the economy and government if implemented.
The ANC’s resolutions were “a Christmas tree of gifts to appease both business and the masses, but it’s short on real specifics,” said Renee Horne, an expert on black economic empowerment and a guest blogger for africanarguments.org.
Still, a rhetorical defeat for the left-wing of the party seemed to always be on the cards.
With credit ratings agencies threatening further downgrades, President Zuma set the tone for the conference on the first day by pledging allegiance to a “mixed economy.”
That theme continued through policy resolutions and with the appointment of multimillionaire Cyril Ramaphosa as deputy head of the ANC, making him Zuma’s heir apparent.
While once a leader of the National Union of Mineworkers, he is now a bona fide capitalist, owning the local franchise rights for McDonald’s and Coca-Cola among other things.
“Economists have interpreted the former trade union leader’s appointment as favourable to investment and the economy,” said Horne.
Leading industry lobby group Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) commended the ANC for “strong signals” that would make policy more predictable.