ANC mulls radical overhaul amid fracture fears
The ANC could launch into a radical overhaul of some of its critical structures after its December elective conference if a number of proposed constitutional amendments sent to branches for discussion are accepted.
In a 21-page discussion document, the party frankly admits that it could fracture because of pervading internal mistrust and that it could have lost the trust and confidence of South Africans in general.
Although the amendments indicate the need for dramatic interventions from the very top of the organisation to the bottom, it neglects to tackle issues around corruption, state capture and rent-seeking and instead seeks to create new bureaucratic levers to ensure command and control. Some of the proposed amendments:
The enlargement of the so-called top six officials to a top 14, which includes an extra deputy president, two extra deputy secretaries-general and five permanent chairpersons of subcommittees of the National Executive Committee (NEC).
The scrapping of the national working committee with the top 14 taking over the day-to-day functioning of the party as a secretariat or working committee.
The reduction of the NEC from 80 elected members to 60.
The constitutional entrenchment of the integrity commission.
The appointment of an electoral commission to manage succession politics as well as the establishment of a national dispute resolution committee and an appeals body.
According to the document, the ANC needs to understand how it must achieve its stated objectives amid the challenges posed by “other political actors and the negatively wired media”. It also warns that the party should place a premium on the values and character of aspirant leaders in a highly contested political environment.
The party frankly admits that it could fracture because of pervading internal mistrust and that it could have lost the trust and confidence of South Africans in general.
“Competition for power also carries the corollary that election outcomes are not readily accepted on the ground that results were manipulated. This creates an environment of mistrust and could fracture the organisation,” the document reads.
The party is also deeply concerned about gerrymandering at local and provincial level, saying that disputed election outcomes often end up in court because delegates are denied access to elective conferences, flawed auditing processes and bias. “If left unattended, these disputes not only spill over into the courts, but also create the perception of a fragmented organisation and could lead to breakaways,” the party says.
Strong emphasis is placed on the role and function of branches as well as the powers of provincial executive committees to resolve disputes by disbanding or suspending branches.
These disputes . . . also create the perception of a fragmented organisation and could lead to breakaways.
The document refers to branches as “the crucible of democracy” and argues that branches have become disconnected from the people.
According to the proposed amendments, branches will in future have to get involved in social issues on grassroots level and engage with ward councillors. This will be monitored by regional and provincial structures to ensure compliance. Provincial executive committees could also receive expansive powers to disband regional and branch structures reporting to it.
Gwede Mantashe, the party’s secretary-general, says in a covering letter the document is in its ninth iteration and that all comments and responses to the amendments need to reach his office by November 15.
Meanwhile, there is a growing risk of a postponement of the December 2017 ANC leadership election and this could be a significant negative event South Africa’s ratings outlook, confidence in the country and the rand.
This is the view expressed on Tuesday by Gina Schoeman of Citi Research. “We expect politics to become even more volatile from here on — negative campaigning is already under way, as are acts of violence (in provinces),” said Schoeman.
She was commenting after the the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Tuesday declared the 2015 KwaZulu Natal (KZN) provincial ANC election of Sihle Zikalala as provincial chair null and void. Zikalala is allied to Zuma, making the ruling significant, in Schoeman’s view.
“December is still a long way off and we have our doubts that President Jacob Zuma will accept the potential outcomes from a ruling that so obviously favours a Ramaphosa-win,” she said.
KZN has the biggest ANC membership of all nine provinces and is currently split in two between Zikalala (who supports Zuma and, therefore, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma), versus Senzo Mchunu (ousted by Zikalala in the 2015 provincial election) who supports Cyril Ramaphosa.
“The court ruling means the balance of power in KZN could now flip to pro-Ramaphosa. The ANC is studying the judgment and will make decisions soon,” said Schoeman.
About 70 percent of ANC branches must pass audits for the National Conference in December to go ahead. To date, branch audits have been completed for 6 of the 9 provinces (Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Limpopo, North West, Free State and Northern Cape).
The Eastern Cape, Western Cape and KZN audits are under way.
On passing its audit, a branch then nominates branch delegates to attend the National Conference. The preliminary credentials list for December shows 2 454 branch delegates plus an additional 271 individuals from the National Executive Committee (NEC) of 86, Integrity Committee (11), ANC Youth League (64), ANC Women’s League (64) and ministers or deputy ministers (46).
“These numbers are not final, but highlight how important branches are. Of the 2 454 branch votes, KZN represents 524 delegates (21%) followed by the Eastern Cape’s 398 (16%) and Mpumalanga’s 304 (12%),” said Schoeman.
“If the ANC decides that Zikalala must step down and be replaced by Mchunu, this implies another 21% of the branch vote in favour of Ramaphosa. The Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga have already openly declared their support for Ramaphosa.
“In total this could mean 50% of branches favour Ramaphosa, which ties in with the findings in our September political survey that Ramaphosa is currently leading the succession race.” — AFP
ANC supporters during the municipal election campaign in 2016. The party fears that internal divisions might “fracture” the party and disputes around internal elections could cause more breakaways