ANC meeting deemed a warm-up
THE ANC’s policy conference starting on Friday has been described as a dress rehearsal for the ruling party’s national elective conference in December.
With thousands of delegates expected to gather at the Nasrec Expo Centre in Johannesburg, a flurry of activities is under way as provinces conclude their provincial conferences to get a mandate for delegates on policy issues for discussion at the five-day event.
Coming out of the provincial conferences, however, are indications of which candidates are preferred by the party’s structures to succeed President Jacob Zuma.
Frontrunners ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa and former AU chief Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma have been receiving widespread support, with Gauteng set on Ramaphosa and KwaZulu-Natal calling for Dlamini Zuma to take the helm. Ramaphosa also received a warm welcome at the Western Cape’s policy conference.
Political analyst Somadoda Fikeni said although pertinent issues could be raised during the conference, the focus of many delegates would be around candidates to succeed Zuma.
“What is likely to come out of the conference is the thrashing out of issues including the state capture saga and the reiteration the party’s position on the issue around radical economic transformation and how to implement it. But at the heart of it will be the issue around preferred candidates for the national conference,” Fikeni said.
“What one sees with the provincial policy conferences that have been taking place is which side provinces are leaning towards with regards to which candidate to endorse.
“This policy conference will be a rehearsal and sparring session for December, very little time will be spent on addressing policies and making reflections. Anything said will be a proxy for the ongoing wars.”
Acting chairperson of the ANC in the Western Cape, Khaya Magaxa, said the delegates attending the conference would not be distracted by the succession debate.
“As the Western Cape, we are determined not to be sidetracked by the flurry around who will the leader of the ANC. To us, those are two separate conferences and we will abide by that,” Magaxa said.
“We are not going to allow comrades to hijack this conference and turn it into a mini-elective conference.
“As to our position on the national leadership issue, we are not a province that is too divided on the matter, if there are differences it will be minor differences, but we remain committed to adhering to the call of not rushing to make pronouncements. “Those (making pronouncements) are clearly desperate, and we as the Western Cape are not.”
Responding to the nomination by a few branches in the Western Cape of former ANC treasurer Mathews Phosa as a candidate, Magaxa said such actions were not recognised by provincial leadership.
“We are not worried about individuals going around accepting nominations from branches when we have not had a single branch general meeting, that will happen when we come back from the policy conference.”
“Only then will we gauge from the processes who the preferred candidates are, and proceed with making our nomination known, we will not impose ourselves on branches, we are not desperate.” ANC GAUTENG chairperson Paul Mashatile has warned that the ruling party is in crisis and this was caused by its present leadership.
“Unfortunately, things have gone horribly wrong. The ANC is perceived as arrogant, it embraces corruption, and is mediocre,” he told the ANC Gauteng policy conference in Irene, Pretoria, last night.
But while the ANC was facing challenges, he said they were not insurmountable. “The ANC has faced challenges before. We survived because we listened; we are not in denial.”
Mashatile said they welcomed the state capture inquiry as this would “help the accused to clear their names”.
He also called on the ANC to return to its values and to reclaim its standing as a leader in society, and wanted to call on other like-minded organisations that shared similar values to do the same.
The key speaker, ANC secretary- general Gwede Mantashe, called for unity within the party. “Through unity we are very, very strong,” he said, adding that he was concerned about the health of the organisation at present.
The tripartite alliance, he said, was in disarray.
Mantashe said the members of the ANC had to elect leadership that would signal that the looting is over.
He also said that it was a myth that President Jacob Zuma’s removal would solve the problem. It would divide the ANC as he still has support, he said. – Shaun Smillie