In this issue:
· Scrap the entire MultiChoice-SABC deal
· Economy in recession – Policy change required to turn around South Africa
Scrap the entire MultiChoice-SABC deal
The SACP is calling for the MultiChoice-SABC deal to be set aside in its entirety, given the testimony that has emerged at the commission of inquiry into state capture and corruption in major public entities. It is very clear that there were serious irregularities and possibly corrupt conduct pushing the deal, in favour of private profiteering and related regulatory and policy capture. The SABC archives that were handed over to MultiChoice as part of the deal must all be returned in good condition, if they are still in the possession of MultiChoice. The SABC archives are public broadcasting property. They are national assets. There must be no single SABC archive left in the hands of MultiChoice in any form whatsoever.
The SABC archives were conveyed to MultiChoice to digitise, but in the interest of private profit by MultiChoice, mainly, and its monopoly. The MultiChoice-SABC was designed to give MultiChoice a controlling say, if not influence or involvement, in SABC programming. This is against the independence required of the SABC as a public broadcaster. The MultiChoice-SABC deal amounts to, in essence, a deal for corporate capture and subordination of the SABC to MultiChoice, a private profit company.
The mechanisms of SABC programming control by MultiChoice deny free-to-air SABC TV viewers (SABC 1, SABC 2 and SABC 3) the same access to the broadcast of SABC archives available on SABC Encore. SABC Encore is accessible only through MultiChoice pay TV. This means that SABC archives are exploited to drive sales for MultiChoice set-top-boxes (decoders), DSTV dishes and subscriptions. The amount paid to the SABC by MultiChoice on the MultiChoice-SABC controlling deal is a pittance, compared to the profit that MultiChoice is making out of the SABC archives and the SABC as a whole – in addition considering the fact that MultiChoice does not pay SABC, a significant revenue source, a re-transmission fee for all its channels. The issue of retransmission fee, too, needs attention. It must be established and paid.
The SABC must move to digital terrestrial broadcasting directly. It must not be exploited by private profit and mediated by corrupt interests. In addition, the policy of encryption, a shared policy of the Alliance, must be pioneered. It is now clearer why our analogue to digital broadcasting migration was delayed. Private profit and corrupt interests are responsible. Those behind the governance decay must be held to account. There must be consequence management in terms of the law.
· This is an excerpt from the full text of SACP First Deputy General Secretary Cde Solly Mapaila’s address at the Third Annual Boyce Malitafa Memorial Lecture, Mdantsane, East London, 1 March 2020
Economy in recession – Policy change required to turn around South Africa
Alex Mohubetšwane Mashilo
Statistics South Africa published its gross domestic product statistical release for the last quarter of 2019 this week on Tuesday 3 March 2020. The South African economy shrank by 1.4 per cent in the fourth quarter of last year, following a decline of 0.8 per cent in the preceding quarter, meaning that the country’s economy fell into a technical recession. There are many global and domestic reasons for the contraction, including the resumption of load shedding in October 2019.
What is the way forward?
The May 2019 ANC general election manifesto correctly emphasises the need for a change in our macro-economic framework in order to tackle the systemic problems of stagnantly low growth, crisis-high unemployment rate and other macro-economic policy failures. The manifesto was drafted by the ANC in consultation with the Alliance and endorsed by all its formations, other progressive forces and the majority of the electorate by vote in the ballot.
In his foreword to the manifesto, President Cyril Ramaphosa precisely underlines the national imperative of transforming the South African “economy to serve all the people, through interventions that promote a developmental growth path to create more jobs and decent work”. President Ramaphosa correctly further states:
“This will need sustainable and radical land reform and a plan to broaden ownership of the economy. It will mean that we must address monopolies, excessive concentration and the growth-inhibiting structure of the economy and advance an industrial plan for localisation. We must drive innovation and the digital revolution, increase the levels of investment in the economy, accelerate the provision of infrastructure to support the economy and meet basic needs, transform and diversify the financial sector, consolidate support for small businesses and co-operatives, as well as grow the township and village economy.”
In line with the manifesto, the President commits:
“These interventions will be accompanied by the development of an appropriate macro-economic framework to support the transformation of the economy to serve all the people.”
About the absolute necessity for the change in macro-economic framework, under which unemployment has now risen and affects approximately 10.4 million active and discouraged work-seekers, the manifesto states:
“Our macro-economic framework, through fiscal and monetary policies, will be aligned to support the commitments made in this manifesto.”
In his address on Sunday 1 March 2020 at the third annual Boyce Malitafa memorial lecture held in Mdantsane, East London, SACP First Deputy General Secretary Cde Solly Mapaila identified another problem. That is the failure or inability to implement agreed programmes. He proposed that we perhaps need a “Do Institute”.
In addition, and at primary level, we need to strive to alter the balance of class forces.
South Africa needs implementation of the shared Alliance strategic perspective of the second radical phase of our democratic transition, the national democratic revolution. In class terms, this is opposed by conservative and neoliberal forces domestically and internationally, among others imperialist establishments such as the United States dominated Washington-based international financial institutions. The Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is also pushing a policy regime in line with the overall trajectory articulated by the “Washington Consensus”. The World Economic Forum (WEF) is also pushing the neoliberal agenda. So are imperialist finance monopoly capital and credit rating agencies.
Given the established influence of the imperialist regime in South Africa, it is clear that a change in macro-economic framework and other policies to build an economy that serves all the people, especially the formerly oppressed and economically exploited, will not happen without an intensification of the anti-imperialist struggle. The working class in particular has to unite and constitute itself politically in a formidable popular Left front to fight for the change in policy direction.
· Dr Alex Mohubetšwane Mashilo is SACP Central Committee member, head of media and communication