Read between lines at ANC con­fer­ence

The suc­ces­sion race will pivot around whose ideas come up trumps this week

Mail & Guardian - - News - Di­neo Bendile

The bat­tle of ideas between KwaZulu-Natal and Gaut­eng at the ANC’s na­tional pol­icy con­fer­ence will be a proxy bat­tle for the party’s De­cem­ber elec­tive con­fer­ence and will set its tone.

Most prov­inces have not pub­licly pro­nounced on their choice of lead­er­ship can­di­dates. But the lan­guage and pol­icy pro­pos­als they present at the con­fer­ence will in­di­cate their align­ment in the race to elect President Ja­cob Zuma’s suc­ces­sor.

As the party be­gins its pol­icy con­fer­ence on Fri­day, those whose ideas pre­vail at the end of the six-day gath­er­ing are likely to emerge as the dom­i­nant group­ing in the lead-up to the De­cem­ber elec­tive con­fer­ence.

Last week­end, both KwaZulu-Natal and Gaut­eng held their pro­vin­cial gen­eral coun­cils. Although the two prov­inces agreed on a num­ber of is­sues, in­clud­ing the need to take ac­tion against state cap­ture and the quest for party unity, they dis­agreed on the core is­sue of eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion.

KwaZulu-Natal, the prov­ince with the largest ANC mem­ber­ship base, uses rad­i­cal rhetoric, high­light­ing the threat of “white mo­nop­oly cap­i­tal” and call­ing for ex­pro­pri­a­tion with­out com­pen­sa­tion — views that align with the cam­paign of pres­i­den­tial hope­ful Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

From a pol­icy per­spec­tive, KwaZulu-Natal is sup­ported by Free State and North West, which are part of the Zuma-aligned “premier league” fac­tion.

The third mem­ber of this group­ing, Mpumalanga, has been care­ful about tak­ing a po­si­tion. It is seen as a king­maker prov­ince, and Mpumalanga party chair­per­son David Mabuza ap­pears on both Dlamini-Zuma’s and deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa’s pre­lim­i­nary slates.

Gaut­eng, on the other hand, is less sig­nif­i­cant in terms of its ANC mem­ber­ship size. But, as the coun­try’s eco­nomic hub, its view also car­ries weight. In its poli­cies it ap­pears to have aligned it­self with Ramaphosa by tak­ing a more mea­sured ap­proach to eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion, land re­dis­tri­bu­tion and “white mo­nop­oly cap­i­tal”.

Gaut­eng’s cause is seen to have the back­ing of the ANC in the Western Cape, North­ern Cape and Eastern Cape, whose mem­bers share sim­i­lar pol­icy ideas.

Like Mpumalanga, Lim­popo has yet to pin its colours to the mast, caught between pro­vin­cial chair­per­son Stan­ley Matha­batha’s al­le­giance to Ramaphosa and sec­re­tary Knocks Se­abi’s align­ment to Dlamini-Zuma.

One of KwaZulu-Natal’s more rad­i­cal pro­pos­als is its call for land to be ex­pro­pri­ated with­out com­pen­sa­tion. Its def­i­ni­tion of “rad­i­cal eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion” em­pha­sises the need for eco­nomic own­er­ship pat­terns “in favour of the blacks in gen­eral and Africans in par­tic­u­lar”. The prov­ince wants the ANC to move de­ci­sively to im­ple­ment pol­icy po­si­tions that will “wres­tle the econ­omy out of the hands of the few white males”.

KwaZulu-Natal’s ex­pro­pri­a­tion stance has the pol­icy buy-in of Free State and North West. The lat­ter has called for the Con­sti­tu­tion to be amended through a ref­er­en­dum. Th­ese two prov­inces have also sup­ported the idea of “white mo­nop­oly cap­i­tal” as a threat — a view that has been ex­pressed by Dlamini-Zuma in nu­mer­ous pub­lic ap­pear­ances.

The ANC in Gaut­eng has re­jected the call for the un­com­pen­sated ex­pro­pri­a­tion of land and has raised con­cern about racial un­der­tones that have emerged in pol­icy dis­cus­sions. At the prov­ince’s pol­icy con­fer­ence, del­e­gates unan­i­mously re­jected the in­clu­sion of “white mo­nop­oly cap­i­tal” in the ANC’s lex­i­con.

“The con­fer­ence has made it clear that there is noth­ing called ‘white mo­nop­oly cap­i­tal’ in our vo­cab­u­lary,” said Gaut­eng pro­vin­cial chair­per­son Paul Mashatile. “The use of some of th­ese con­cepts and ter­mi­nol­ogy smacks of pop­ulism that cre­ates con­fu­sion within our ranks.”

This view is not only shared by Ramaphosa but also by the North­ern Cape and Western Cape, which adopted a sim­i­lar stance at their re­spec­tive con­fer­ences. The prov­inces agree that mo­nop­oly cap­i­tal, re­gard­less of race, is a threat. The North­ern Cape also re­jected the use of “new terms” to de­flect from wrong­do­ing.

The tongue-lashing and scathing crit­i­cism between the two fac­tions has al­ready be­gun and is ex­pected to in­ten­sify as they go head to head in their quest for dom­i­nance at the na­tional pol­icy con­fer­ence.

KwaZulu-Natal ANC chair­per­son Sihle Zikalala has al­ready called for those who re­sist “rad­i­cal eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion” to be “up­rooted from the move­ment”.

“It is th­ese com­rades who to­day have spon­sored bravery to tell us that there is no white mo­nop­oly cap­i­tal and that the agenda for rad­i­cal eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion is a reck­less agenda that will up­set the pri­vate cap­i­tal,” he said dur­ing his ad­dress at the KwaZulu-Natal con­fer­ence.

Although nom­i­na­tions have not for­mally opened in the party’s lead­er­ship race, dis­cus­sions on whether there is a “tra­di­tion” of suc­ces­sion in the party are also likely to see both sides flex their mus­cles. Zikalala and Mashatile be­lieve such a tra­di­tion does ex­ist, but are at odds about ex­actly what the tra­di­tion is.

Re­cently, Mashatile re­port­edly told party del­e­gates at the West Rand re­gional pol­icy con­fer­ence that, although there was no set pol­icy on suc­ces­sion, a cul­ture had been cre­ated over the decades for the ANC deputy to succeed the president.

“OR Tambo was the deputy president to Chief Luthuli. I know that there is no pol­icy, but we can say that it is his­tory that OR Tambo was a deputy president to Chief Luthuli,” Mashatile said, giv­ing other ex­am­ples.

This view is sup­ported by the North­ern Cape, which has pub­licly en­dorsed Ramaphosa to succeed Zuma, cit­ing a tra­di­tion it be­lieved had been cre­ated in the party.

Zikalala, on the other hand, be­lieves the party’s only suc­ces­sion tra­di­tion is one pred­i­cated on se­lect­ing the best can­di­date, who is not nec­es­sar­ily the deputy president.

“The as­ser­tion that a deputy is an in­her­ent suc­ces­sor to the in­cum­bent is de­void of sci­en­tific anal­y­sis of the tasks of the cur­rent phase of NDR [na­tional demo­cratic rev­o­lu­tion] and suit­abil­ity of lead­er­ship qual­ity and char­ac­ter to lead the move­ment in that phase of the strug­gle,” he said.

His view is shared by the Free State ANC, whose chair­per­son, Ace Ma­gashule, told pro­vin­cial coun­cil del­e­gates that there had never been a guar­an­teed pres­i­den­tial spot for the party’s deputy president.

Gaut­eng and KwaZulu-Natal do agree on the need to in­ves­ti­gate state cap­ture, with the ANC in both prov­inces wel­com­ing the es­tab­lish­ment of a ju­di­cial com­mis­sion of in­quiry.

But, with KwaZulu-Natal call­ing for the in­ves­ti­ga­tion to look into all arms of the state, the scope and func­tion of this in­quiry may be an­other source of ten­sion.

Some Eastern Cape lead­ers are likely to raise their crit­i­cism of Zuma’s deal­ings with the Gup­tas and the fam­ily’s ap­par­ent co-opt­ing of min­is­ters, in the light of the on­go­ing emails saga.

The Eastern Cape, the ANC’s sec­ond-largest prov­ince by mem­ber­ship, has crit­i­cised Zuma in re­cent months and is seen as dif­fi­cult ground for the Dlamini-Zuma fac­tion. Last week, Zuma can­celled his planned ad­dress to the prov­ince’s pol­icy con­fer­ence. Na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee mem­ber Fik­ile Xasa ended up ad­dress­ing the gath­er­ing and threw jibes at ANC lead­ers linked to the Gup­tas.

“Those among us within the ANC who are al­low­ing the Gup­tas to in­fil­trate us must be iso­lated. We must isolate the Gup­tas and their friends and we will not be silenced by any­one,” Xasa said.

“There is noth­ing called white mo­nop­oly cap­i­tal in our vo­cab­u­lary. This ter­mi­nol­ogy smacks of pop­ulism”

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