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I’m still in the USA, but for those who might have missed it (40 minutes ago), here is the ANC Youth League’s “happy birthday” message to their new favourite ANC leader.

I will leave the statement in full below, not because I am a news wire service for the Youth League, but because clearly they are polishing the arguments for why Kgalema Motlanthe must replace Jacob Zuma at Mangaung in December 2012.

I am not at all certain it is going to fly – we have to be sure that the most powerful groups that backed Zuma have finished getting their slice or have given up trying … and we have over a year before that is finalised.

In preparation for having to listen to endless blather on the long road to Mangaung it is wise to digest the arguments and counter-arguments early on … it makes them easier to ignore later.

The ANC Youth League wishes ANC Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe a joyous and productive happy birthday. Comrade Kgalema Motlanthe is one of the most outstanding leaders of the ANC amongst his generation and has always brought forth creative and innovative solutions to South Africa’s socio-economic problems.

As General Secretary of the National Union of Mine Workers, Comrade Kgalema was involved in the establishment of the Mineworkers Investment Company (MIC), which was wholly owned by the Mineworkers Investment Trust. During his tenure, NUM established the JB Marks Education Trust, which provided bursaries to mineworkers and their dependants, and a resident trade union school called the Elijah Barayi Memorial Training Centre, located in Yeoville, Johannesburg. He was also involved in establishing the Mineworkers Development Agency, which focused on the developmental needs of ex-mineworkers, their dependants and communities.

As Secretary General of the ANC, Comrade Kgalema Motlanthe held the ANC together amidst massive difficulties of intolerance and purging of leaders of the ANC who were seen as opposed to the forces that be. Comrade Kgalema recurrently spoke against government deployees who refused to follow mandate of the African National Congress on key policy decisions and directives. Comrade Kgalema is not a compromised leader and can at all times provide leadership to all sections of society and the ANC.

Comrade Kgalema Motlanthe is the first leader of the ANC in the democratic dispensation to propose the idea of founding a State Owned Mining Company to fund free education. The ANC Youth League today draws inspiration from his good lessons, creative and innovative ideas on how the country should move forward. When the ANC Youth League was militantly raising the question of African leadership in key and strategic economic sectors of the State, Comrade Kgalema proposed the idea of sending students to the best Universities outside South Africa to gain skills, education and expertise on critical, scarce and vital skills in order to contribute to the development of the economy in the future.

As President of the Republic of South Africa, Comrade Kgalema Motlanthe excellently and modestly managed the transition from 2004 General elections government to the 2009 general elections government. He handled transition in a very modest and wise manner, which did not isolate members of the ANC and critical members of the bureaucracy who were made to believe the ANC is out to get them.

As a progressive internationalist, Comrade Kgalema Motlanthe has never agreed to make unsustainable and unnecessary assurances to imperialist Masters, even when he addresses them in their countries. Recurrently, the contributions of Comrade Kgalema Motlanthe reflect a deeper understanding of ANC traditions, policy positions and various conjectures of the National Democratic Revolution. The honestly and frankness he expressed in the 52nd National Conference Organisational Report on challenges facing the ANC, and the solutions proposed by Congress will for a long time guide the ANC at all levels.

Comrade Kgalema Motlanthe represents a brighter future of the ANC and the country and will always be celebrated as one of the best leaders of his generation of ANC leadership. Happy Birthday Comrade President!

Issued by the ANC Youth League

Contact Floyd Shivambu, ANC Youth League Spokesperson

0828199474

Arrived late last night in New York from London (and Edinburgh and Frankfurt)  and the lag means I am only going to want to fall asleep at exactly the time it will be most unsuitable to do so.

I have been travelling (for Indian owned Religare Capital Markets, where I have a new berth) with the excellent Michael Kavanagh who is a mining and metals specialists. We have a story which interestingly balances the South African political risk (especially associated with nationalisation) and the long-term bullish outlook for  platinum. We are half way through a global tour talking to fund managers who specialise in investing either in mining stocks or emerging markets … or both.

South Africans at the point of weeping and pulling their hair out because of the latest ANC Youth League posture, or the newest tender scandal or Jacob Zuma’s increasingly hopeless grasp on the complexities need to spend a little time with people whose job it is to compare South Africa as an investment destination with its peers.

Oh yes, they worry faintly about Julius Malema’s antics but their universe of comparison is huge and diverse … and if the worst comes to the worst the money they manage can shift very easily and early.

(Our parochialism causes us to believe) we have no-one with whom to compare our populists, gangsters, thugs and incompetents.

Trust me (or rather trust the fund managers with whom I have been speaking), ours are no worse than the equivalents in Russia, Brazil, India, China … and a host of similar investment destinations between which the money flicks and flitters.

One of my slides that might not charm a domestic audience causes nothing more than a wry smile here. This is par for the course for investors who concentrate on global emerging markets; some light relief before going back to worrying about whether Israel is going to bomb the Iranian nuclear fuels development programme or not.

We might as well smile – both because we are not as bad as we could be, but also because when you look further than the grotesque, our earnestness is almost sweet and crazy … to my mind, anyway.

Sitting in a lobby between meetings with resource funds in Edinburgh – they want to know about the “nationalisation of mines” call and where I think that is going. I will try and give feedback about that as I go along (London tonight and USA next week.)

But meanwhile briefly: the Black Management Forum pull out from Business Unity South Africa?

“The Capitalists” have never been a unified block; but the split between what BMF and BUSA represent is important.

As I have said elsewhere, BMF (along with the Youth League and similar groups) want the goodies out of employment equity and black economic empowerment legislation and regulation for themselves. They do not care about the functionality of the parastatals or the state or legislation that encourages economic growth. They care about maximising their advantage from transformation – getting the top jobs in parastatals and getting access to control of the linked patronage networks.

BUSA represents productive business – that needs a functional state and needs working utilities. It needs the best management. Its interests are in direct opposition to the BMF’s -  which represents the most parasitic elements of the new elite and see the public sector (as well as their leveraged advantage in the private sector) as an opportunity for rent seeking and looting.

I am delighted that they have pulled out of BUSA. At some point in a struggle to persuade a group to see the bigger picture and take account of the broader set of interests (especially of the poor and unemployed) a line is crossed and a cartel morphs into a gang. Beyond that point the laws of engagement have changed.

If you could see the sneering disgust from a whole lot of fund mangers about cronyism and corruption in South Africa (that I am experiencing as I move around Europe and the UK), I think you would agree that it is past time for us to deal with those who have proven that all they are concerned about is looting and getting the best for themselves and their members.

Let them go into the wilderness and raid as the outlaws that they are.

I am an independent political analyst focusing on Southern Africa and I specialise in examining political and policy risks for financial markets.

A significant portion of my income is currently derived from BNP Paribas Cadiz Securities (Pty) Ltd.

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