‘ANC must plan for coali­tions’

Rul­ing party mulls over pro­posal of ready­ing for gov­er­nance pol­i­tics as op­po­si­tion

CityPress - - News - S’THEMBILE CELE sthem­bile.cele@city­press.co.za

The ANC must start to “strate­gi­cally” plan for coali­tion pol­i­tics in fu­ture elec­tions as it faces the grow­ing prospect of warm­ing op­po­si­tion benches where it will strug­gle to find par­ties to team up with. Na­tional chair­per­son Baleka Mbete told City Press that it was not “de­featist” to start pre­par­ing to be the op­po­si­tion go­ing for­ward.

“Right now the ANC is in sit­u­a­tions where in fact had we pre-empted ahead of time and started re­flect­ing on coali­tion pol­i­tics, we would have been bet­ter pre­pared for where we are al­ready in op­po­si­tion and maybe are not do­ing as well as we should.

“We have got to get our­selves into that mind space of how do we deal with an en­vi­ron­ment of coali­tion pol­i­tics be­cause it is a re­al­ity of what hap­pens in pol­i­tics,” Mbete said.

Last year, op­po­si­tion par­ties formed coali­tions to oust the ANC from gov­er­nance in the met­ros of Nel­son Man­dela, Tsh­wane and Jo­han­nes­burg af­ter lo­cal elec­tions.

Mean­while, rap­por­teur of the party’s or­gan­i­sa­tional re­newal com­mis­sion, Febe Pot­gi­eter-Gqubule, in a sep­a­rate in­ter­view has said that part of the issue re­gard­ing or­gan­i­sa­tion re­newal is that the ANC has “al­ways pre­pared for gov­er­nance”.

Pot­gi­eter-Gqubule ad­mit­ted that while the na­tional pol­icy con­fer­ence did not re­solve on the exact rules of en­gage­ment of coali­tion pol­i­tics, there was an ac­knowl­edge­ment that the loss suf­fered in the last lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions in­di­cated a need for a more strate­gic ap­proach to coali­tion pol­i­tics.

Ear­lier in the week, ANC na­tional ex­ec­u­tive mem­ber Nathi Mthethwa had said it would be “de­featist” to start en­ter­tain­ing the idea of coali­tions.

“His­tor­i­cally, the ANC char­ac­terised it­self as cen­treleft and you had very few par­ties oc­cu­py­ing that space, you now have par­ties like the EFF. They agree with us on cer­tain poli­cies but in oth­ers they will tac­ti­cally vote for the DA,” Pot­gi­eter-Gqubule said.

“So we need to con­sider the chang­ing po­lit­i­cal land­scape in the coun­try. The sug­ges­tions on the for­mat it will take are not very clear but it will prob­a­bly be part of the gov­er­nance and leg­is­la­ture com­mit­tee that must look at these is­sues. One of the sug­ges­tions is a per­ma­nent elec­tion ca­pac­ity.

“It [plan­ning for coali­tions] is one of the things the ANC will have to do, which will be dif­fi­cult for the ANC be­cause it is an in­cum­bent and ev­ery­body wants power, it means that it en­gages in coali­tions in a dif­fer­ent space. That is why we need to have a much more strate­gic ap­proach and that it be in­cluded as part of our dis­cus­sions and struc­tures at all lev­els,” said Pot­gi­eter-Gqubule.

An­other con­tentious pro­posal, cham­pi­oned per­son­ally by Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma in his clos­ing address, is the re­con­fig­u­ra­tion of the of­fi­cials’ struc­ture. The party is giv­ing con­sid­er­a­tion to adding ad­di­tional of­fi­cials in the form of an ad­di­tional deputy sec­re­tary-gen­eral or an ad­di­tional two deputy pres­i­dents.

The pres­i­dent also shared the sen­ti­ment of oth­ers at the con­fer­ence, who called for the scrap­ping of the so­called win­ner-takes-all ap­proach to the elec­tive con­fer­ence which is set to take place in December. The pro­posal is that the can­di­date with the sec­ond-most num­ber of votes in the bid to be­come pres­i­dent, au­to­mat­i­cally be­comes deputy pres­i­dent.

The pro­posal has been viewed with sus­pi­cion by the Cyril Ramaphosa fac­tion, who be­lieve that the pres­i­dent is try­ing to save face and bring in his pre­ferred can­di­date, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, “through the back door”, as they be­lieve that he is now com­fort­ably the fron­trun­ner.

These changes would re­quire amend­ments to the ANC constitution. Ac­cord­ing to Pot­gi­eter-Gqubule, the pro­posed changes would have to be sub­mit­ted to the con­sti­tu­tional com­mit­tee by Septem­ber in or­der for the changes to come into ef­fect at the na­tional con­fer­ence.

The first woman youth league sec­re­tary-gen­eral be­lieves that al­low­ing the “loser” of the day to au­to­mat­i­cally take on the role of deputy pres­i­dent would not in­fringe on the demo­cratic process but would en­sure unity in the or­gan­i­sa­tion.

“I think the gen­eral prin­ci­ple is every­one agrees that we need to have a united ANC and that we can’t carry on like we have been at ev­ery con­fer­ence be­cause we lose,” she said.

“What we hope is that it is not just sim­ply di­vid­ing the spoils. The sug­ges­tion is about the lead­er­ship that we elect as the top nine must unite the ANC. They must im­ple­ment the ANC pro­gramme. We are not ex­pect­ing who­ever we elect there to go in rep­re­sent­ing their fac­tions.

“You don’t want an­other splin­ter in the ANC. We want to be able to find a situation where ev­ery­body can find a home within the ANC,” Pot­gi­eter-Gqubule said, re­fer­ring to the 2007 con­fer­ence which saw the for­ma­tion of the Congress of the Peo­ple af­ter sup­port­ers of Thabo Mbeki broke away from the ANC.

Pot­gi­eter-Gqubule said that the na­tional con­fer­ence con­cluded with a re­solve to act on is­sues which were plagu­ing the party.

“I think one of the strengths of the ANC has al­ways been its ca­pac­ity for self-re­flec­tion and for re­newal. We need to act on the is­sues raised by the crit­i­cal mass. It is a ques­tion about the unity of the ANC, it is about cor­rup­tion, it is about the so­cial dis­tance, it is about the in­tegrity of the ANC and if we don’t do it now, our gen­er­a­tion will be the gen­er­a­tion that will have de­stroyed the ANC.”

TALK TO US Do you agree it is prag­matic and not de­featist for the ANC to en­gage in pre­par­ing for a strate­gic ap­proach to coali­tion pol­i­tics? What are your rea­sons?

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TAC­TI­CAL ANC or­gan­i­sa­tional re­newal com­mis­sion mem­ber Febe Pot­gi­eter-Gqubule

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