Ramaphosa tells ANC that SA needs R1-trillion for Covid-19 relief: insiders
President Cyril Ramaphosa is said to have told an extended meeting of the ANC’s National Working Committee on Monday that he needed to raise R1-trillion immediately to cushion the impact of Covid-19.
This is as the ANC instructed the government to consider a minimum-income support grant that covers those currently falling outside of social grants — particularly informal workers and the unemployed.
Ramaphosa addressed the virtual meeting just after 10am, where he clarified to party leaders that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has guaranteed that loans it has offered to SA “do not come with strings attached”.
“He clarified that the IMF offered us loan money with no strings attached and free of interest. He explained that the IMF has done away with its structural adjustment programme that it had in the past,” a source in the meeting explained.
A second source said he believed that Ramaphosa was hinting that SA would have to take the route of the IMF.
“He said if the IMF gives us a loan, it won’t affect our sovereignty,” said the source.
Ramaphosa’s statements were widely interpreted by those in the meeting as support for finance minister Tito Mboweni’s assertion that SA would turn to the World Bank and the IMF for economic relief if the need arises.
“The alliance was angry at Tito’s statements about the IMF. So I think by the president explaining to the NWC that the loan from the IMF had no strings attached, it gave an indication that he is definitely supporting Tito on this,” the second source said.
Ramaphosa was said to be frank in his reading of the situation to the ANC top brass, telling party leaders to condition themselves for mass job losses. He reiterated that the Covid-19 pandemic has led to the biggest depression since 1929.
Ramaphosa did not detail what the economic relief package would look like and where exactly SA will source the R1-trillion. Insiders said it appeared that the money would come from a mixture of loans from the IMF and the Brics bank, as well as the reprioritising of the national budget.
The meeting was told that a comprehensive economic plan would be considered by a cabinet meeting, which began at 2pm on Monday.
“The NWC, echoing the Alliance Political Council, therefore calls for an effective stimulus package that will enable us to effectively respond to the crisis,” said the party in a statement after the meeting.
Mboweni, who is central to the government’s pending economic plan, was notably absent from the virtual meeting, which lasted until 1pm.
The finance minister said last week that the government was not looking for budget support from the IMF but was in talks with the institution about Covid-specific loan packages.
Following Ramaphosa’s address to the NWC meeting, health minister Zweli Mkhize gave an extensive report on the effect of the coronavirus across the country.
His presentation, said insiders, detailed issues per province, with KwaZulu-Natal being the most affected in terms of fatalities.
On Monday evening there were 3,300 confirmed cases of Covid-19, with 58 total death and 1,055 people recovered from the disease.
ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule is also said to have delivered a report on the state of all the provinces amid the outbreak.
“We discussed that the biggest problem is the Eastern Cape in terms of funerals. We have to persuade people to avoid mass funerals,” said the insider.
Insiders said that for the first time, the party’s top leaders were notably outraged at reports of ANC councillors looting food parcels.
“There were number of incidents quoted by the different provinces of councillors stealing food parcels from the poor [and] councillors getting bribes. Everyone was firm that we have to be harsh: they must be arrested and fired from the ANC,” said the source.
In his statement issued on Monday evening, Magashule said the NWC has instructed its provincial structures to proceed decisively against any allegations made against its leaders and public representatives.
“The NWC expressed its abhorrence at acts of defiance and ill-discipline by some of its own members, public representatives and leaders,” he said.
“It instructed its structures to investigate and act swiftly and decisively against any cadres who have defied lockdown regulations, looted food and supplies meant for poor households, and subverted procurement process through corrupt practices.”
Opposition parties have warned of party leaders who have corrupted procurement processes amid the national crises.
“The extended NWC condemns the partisan use of food parcels and warns that any ANC deployee who undermines the dignity and unity of the people will be subject to disciplinary procedures. Now is not the time for politicking,” read the statement.
In closing the meeting, Ramaphosa said they have to be tough in protecting the poor.