ANC: Emerges a solidified UNIT from its 53rd Conference
– The Road from Mangaung –
Mangaung 2012, the much speculated and claimed ‘Promised of Revenge’ came and is now history. The ANC’s 53rd Elective Conference has drawn to a close with the reporting of the commissions that congregated to engage what is generally called policy formulation as it emanates from the June 2012 Policy Conference.
Much was made wrongly and perhaps even rightly of what was anticipated the real outcome of a Mangaung, yet in the end the ANC went about its business as usual.
It is perhaps time to reflect if the ANC emerges from this Conference stronger or weaker; my view is it emerges on this claimed Mayan prediction date of the end of the World a much stronger and more solidified entity, organisation and party.
Naturally, there will be those who would argue that as the leader of the Opposition Helen Zille, retired politician FW De Klerk and economic analyst Moeletsi Mbeki remonstrates against my claim.
The truth is the conference was always going to inculcate two distinctive things, one the election of the leadership of the ANC, which by design becomes the political leadership of the South Africa and the review through robust engagement ultimately the adoption of proposed policy platforms that is to set the tone for the future.
It is my analysis that the ANC comes from Mangaung a stronger entity hence I shall attempt to highlight a few reasons why the ANC is a much stronger organisation today than maybe a fortnight ago if the media reports and commentary is use as the yardstick. These constitute my few reasons and do not focus on a comprehensive analysis of all aspect Conference dealt with.
1. Election of the TOP 6 confirms a democratic organisation and process
The ANC branches present as delegates for this conference voted a leadership into power informed by the overarching and undergirding theme of democracy.
When outgoing deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe in an unusually afforded ‘speech’ says the ANC is the epitome of democracy, it must be accepted that this is a truth very few can contest. All nominations were made and those nominated agreed to stand informed by the will of the branches, the victors emerged as a collective from the votes though slates informed the voting patterns.
Perhaps the ANC must accept that slates ( list of preferred candidates) is now entrenched ANC election culture and should not fight it but find a way to manage it. The TOP 6, from president to Deputy Secretary General, were elected with excessive margins thus confirming the conviction of the branches and who they wanted to lead the ANC and South Africa. An average of 75% signalled the margin by which those in the top 6 were elected which means it was no close contest, but a run-away victory, and a serious expression of confidence. Yet we have to salute the ones who lost, because elections can be divisive if one refuses to make democracy count.
The ANC is stronger for unlike 2007 Polokwane when the presidential race was a 60- 40 % split; Mangaung 2012 gave us 75-25% endorsement in victory margin. Therefore lending itself to a victory as the will of the people.
The ANC leadership elected as the Executive for all positions confirms it a much stronger and unified leadership that comes endorsed overwhelmingly.
2. A Confirmed respect for Constitutional Court and its Rulings
It is history now that a few Free State based disgruntled members opted to take the ANC; they joined out of their free will, to court to challenge the constituting of the current Free State PEC and the attending delegates.
The Constitutional Court heard them and ruled that the PEC was not properly constituted therefore invalidating the members of the PEC to attend and vote as delegates. The ANC accepted the Constitutional Court ruling and proved sensitive to await the justification of the Constitutional Court for this ruling. The organisation proved prudent to prepare itself for any best and worst case scenario as it relates to the elections and therefore prepared two sets of ballots to include and exclude the Free State and North West delegates.
Mangaung confirmed the ANC as disciplined organisation that respects the law, and the highest court in our country willing to accept its rulings as in the best interest of greater society. An ANC that respects the organs it gave birth to in freedom’s pursuit is a stronger ANC.
3. An Organisation in on-going Renewal,
Organisational renewal remains critical aspect of the way forward, it is clear the ANC under its 12th President is charting a way on this renewal, a finding of original landmarks, which will guide the ANC into its future. Organisational Renewal, underscores the need to do introspection, hearing NEC member Tony Yengeni admitting that corruption is plaguing the organisation and the resolve to combat it, helps us understand that renewal is no longer a discussion but non-negotiable. No person or organisation can heal itself unless it is willing to admit the rot.
Mangaung helps us see clearer how the ANC wants to be seen, experienced, and embraced by all. An organisation of principles, values and a deep sense of respect for the work of its predecessors with an exacted mandate by the people of South Africa. Renewal also means to find the connection with the grassroots constituencies in a tangible and real meaning. It equally means developing a cadre that remains a volunteer if one may borrow former President Mbeki’s construct of what should inform a cadre.
Organisationa renewal is no longer a dream and idea but a living construct that Mangaung has endorsed as a non-negotiable.
4. Economic Policy entrenched
- Parity of Articulation of Policy
The ANC constituting a broad church of membership accommodates a variety of conflicting interpretations of what constitute the macro economic outlook, yet it has adopted some time ago the New Growth Plan.
The challenge for it remains the consistent clarity and parity of articulation of its economic policy, which for many has a sense of androgynous identity less in letter but in praxis, and articulation. It will be imperative to find common lines of this economic policy and to articulate it consistently devoid of ideological paradigms that may cloud its implementation.
- Must lead the Alliance partners
The Tripartite Alliance partners may not agree with the economic line and has a right and privilege to engage and lobby for their positions, but the ANC Post Mangaung will necessarily need to communicate, advance, and demonstrate its central policy themes unashamedly. As a means of communicating it macro and micro economic policy and plans, it will need to unpack the economic fundamentals, the challenges, and its response to such in a global world where many countries are in yoyo state on what will work. The ANC cannot afford to prove ambivalent in its articulation of this policy and must lead its Alliance partners in salience of understanding this as the dominant policy.
- Nationalisation, is not ANC Policy
The much castigated, feared and scarecrow that has been draping the canvas of many minds, since forner President Mandela first mentioned it and it resurfaced in 2010 when the Youth League tabled this at the NGC is finally dealt with. The ANC is clear that nationalisation is not ANC policy and has never been and might never be. Business and investors sees this as the red traffic light for economic development.
These are very a relieved this morning because NEC Member and Minister of Public Enterprises Malusi Gigaba articulated the ANC resolution from his conference in clarion sense. Yet this is not new, all senior members of the ANC has over time consistently articulated this stance, though the ANCYL and some tripartite alliance partners murmured the need for a form of nationalisation consistently, we can confirm today nationalisation is not ANC Policy and not the future for Mzansi if the ANC still leads it.
5. Organisational Discipline non-negiotiable
If Mangaung underscored anything in principle application, it is a non-tolerance of ill-discipline by ANC members. The presidential political report was clear on the subject matter and confirmed the 2010- NGC in which leadership pointed to this subject matter. In fact, it can now be accepted that Jacob Zuma sees the restoration of discipline in the ANC as a significant aspect of his personal legacy. Both the political and SG reports afforded time and space to this matter, as demonstration of the importance and the search for source of this ill-discipline. What is taken from Mangaung is that no member will ever behave or show disrespect for this movement in ill-discipline and get away with.
6. An adopted Ethical code for Membership
Coupled with ill- discipline is the critical subject of and ethical code for the conduct of members, all members regardless of office or position. Mangaung as reported by the Gauteng based David Makhura, adopted the formation of a committee, which will assess members financial involvement in government business, to ensure that the proverbial leaking tap is sealed. Until now, members were able to get away with shady deals and corrupt practices, yet Mangaung is committing the ANC to engage its members with a new ethic of what it means to govern. The presidential political report, led in declaring the ANC needs a cadre that understands and appreciates the ANC Governs one who respects this governance in all aspects.
The establishment of this committee or panel when it is combined with other factors of cadre development and political education will with time deliver a new type of cadre. One who moves from the premise of humility to serve and respect for the ANC its structures, South Africa and its people?
- Financial Offenders will be expelled
The ANC plagued by accusations of financial offenders, in Mangaung responded and concluded that members found guilty of racketeering, money laundering, fraud and other irregular financial transgressions in a court of law faces an automatic expulsion. This is indeed a giant leap in reigning in the endemic corrupt new subculture of greed and crass materialism. Mangaung leads the ANC member to know he/she will be expelled if they engage in unsavoury financial transactions. This as part of the ethical code of membership bodes well for the development of a new breed of responsible cadres.
7. Re-Assessment of qualifying criteria to serve in the NEC, 10year membership
Mangaung took cognisance of the fact that the ANC is invaded by a cadre in some circles that has joined with no other intent but economic benefit.
It accepted that this cadre has redefined the values of this 100 year Old movement in an encroaching derogatory manner. Mangaung wants to purge the ANC of this economic self-centred cadre and to this extent, accessing the ANC structures should not be an easy leap, but a period of 10 years is affixed to qualify someone for election into the NEC. This bodes well because it will afford the character ad ethic of service a pristine place in this embrace.
This adoption stands in the same vein as the proposed amendment earlier adopted that asks of branch members to have served for a period in membership before election.
8. Role of its Leagues in particular – ANCYL
ANCYL remains a league like all other leagues in the ANC, and is not an organisation on its own; neither can claim a right above other leagues in arrogance of mind. Mangaung as some of us observed as early as last year for ones dealt with this ANCYL claim of Kingmaker status. Never before has the ANCYL in election been a normal constituency as we saw and experienced in Mangaung. Mangaung therefore restored ANCYL to its rightful place; it underscored the claim of Kingmaker as a fallacy.
Having reigned in ANCYL, the future for ANCYL will be to focus on youth matters and that which is in the ambit of their respective consideration as it relates to development. I will go as far as to say the grip that expelled leaders had over ANCYL in personality politics is gone and we can expect an ANCYL that will toe the line of the mother body, when its leadership will eventually be elected or confirmed.
Conference resolved that a panel would engage the subject matter of ANCYL to assist its future role and base.
9. An Endorsed National Plan
Mangaung endorsed the proposed national 30-50year plan for South Africa. If we have a vision informed by due research and engagement, we can accept that it is the first time in South Africa’s history as a Republic that a National Plan and Vision is in existence. Under apartheid, we had planning for the privileged race. Now under this ANC leadership we can claim we have a plan for all 51million South Africans.
10. Unlocking Opportunity for Youth Employment
-Youth Subsidy way Forward-
The ANC at Manguang proved more decisive in leadership on the subject of Youth Wage Subsidy, knowing unemployment rated 25% of our population and with a higher percentage towards Youth unemployment. Organised labour in COSATU is advocating against this agreed plan for fear of what it may do to current employed workers, yet that fear is untested and at Mangaung the ANC confirmed it will move ahead with the original agreed Government R5billion investment. Let us not forget the DA in the Western Cape was at pains to take COSATU on this subject matter, claiming the ANC is held hostage by a Tripartite alliance member. The truth is Mangaung delivered the decisiveness of intent. The detail must still find meaning in implementation.
11. Factionalism’s Death Knoll
Factionalism the cancer that has been hitch-hiking a free ride in the ANC, in my assessment was dealt a death knoll. Regardless to the those who look for all means to define the ANC as constituted in pluralism of ANC’s, these can no longer dispute that there is one ANC. Mangaung proved again this and bellowed a clear unambiguous sound against pockets of factionalism that may still try to exist in this singular organisation.
It is clear that the Mangaung says to all ANC Members if you choose to prove factional you may not belong in the ANC of today and tomorrow. No longer will members be bought by those who have deep pockets to create anarchy and havoc in this 100 year old organisation.
Off course, the practical application of this remains a test, yet the resolve at Mangaung is clear and will make it difficult for this practice to go on as freely as before.
In conclusion if you ask if Mangaung solved all the problems in magic wand sene, and we all will have great Father Christmas gifts on Tuesday morning awaiting us under the ‘Tree’, in which unemployment is gone, economic redress fixed, our education crises resolved and the land question dealt with, the answer is a resounding no.
Yet I shall dare to claim the ANC is much stronger than a year ago, in focus, in intent, in resolve and more honest about itself. This honesty of organisational context bodes well for the greater South African citizenry because a stronger ANC can deliver more to its constituency and serve the Country better.
So contrary to the DA’s Helen Zille’s claim of the death of the ANC, apartheids last President FW De Klerk’s cry against the democratically elected leadership, or Moeletsi Mbeki’s rhetoric of ‘Ramaphosa was there on the NEC and nothing happened’ – These refuse to see or either do not know the ANC. The ANC is in renewal and a stronger force, that can prove this in the 2014 ballot if this strength is actualised in a renewed verve of service delivery, leadership and accountability.
Bishop Clyde N.S.Ramalaine
Independent Analyst & Commentator