Joel Netshitenzhe has resigned as Director General in Trevor Manuel’s National Planning Commission in the presidency.

This comes a day after President Zuma reshuffled and attempted to explain the various roles to be played by the various ministers who fall into the economics cluster. The Business Day article suggested that Zuma had caved in to Cosatu’s concerns.

This ‘explanation and reshuffle’ comes, in turn, after weeks of bitter criticism, particularly from Cosatu, about the apparent sidelining of ‘their’ Minister Ebrahim Patel of Economic Development.

Now there might be a thousand different things going on, but Joel Netshitenzhe is a crucial ANC intellectual who has played a leading role in crafting the delicate balance the organisation has struck between global capital markets/foreign investors on the one hand and Cosatu/the SACP and the  ANC’s left wing on the other.

The ideological and policy stance of government and the ruling alliance – and particularly the role of “the left” and the silo of  issues and policy drives traditionally associated with the left – are currently being fiercely contested.

The concern – transient perhaps, and associated with the news flow – is that Joel was pushed or that he found the drift untenable.

*”Peter Mayibuye” was Joel’s nom de plume from the mid 80’s in exile when he edited the ANC’s journal Mayibuye as well as headed the ANC Department of  Information and Propaganda (yes,  they actually called it that) and served on the ANC’s Political Military Committee.

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