ANC’s ‘second transition’ set for change

2012-06-28 07:05

On the second day of the ANC’s policy conference the “second transition” looked set to undergo a transformation of some sorts, although opinions differed about how radical it would be.

There was even talk yesterday of reverting back to the party’s 2007 strategy and tactics paper while dropping parts of the 2012 document, in which the second transition is proposed.

But President Jacob Zuma, who is perceived to be waging his campaign for a second term on the back of the second transition, didn’t take this fight-back lying down.

He watched the discussions in the different commissions with a hawk’s eye and attended each of them personally.

Two delegates said Zuma spent most of his time in the commission on economic transformation, which discussed state-owned enterprises and the Reserve Bank’s mandate yesterday afternoon, and which will be discussing nationalisation this morning.

Some have interpreted this as an attempt by Zuma to keep an eye on Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale, who is on this commission and who on Tuesday challenged delegates about the songs they sang in favour of Zuma.

Early yesterday rumours did the rounds that delegates opposed to a second term for Zuma managed to convince all the commissions to reject outright the notion of a second transition.

The term describes economic transformation from white to black hands, but has been used by Zuma and many of his supporters to drum up support for him.

But delegates who sat in various of the 11 commissions discussing the document differed about what happened.

Their interpretations ranged from the Zuma supporter who said all the commissions looked set to adopt the “second transition”, to a Zuma detractor who said all the commissions successfully rejected it.

“Only KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga and partly the Free State are in defence of it. It became clear that it is about President Zuma,” the delegate from the Western Cape said.

Another delegate from the Western Cape said: “We were surprised to hear Zuma talking about the second transition as if it was a done deal even before he asked provinces how they feel about it.”

Zuma first pushed the concept as if it was ANC policy already in his ANC centenary lecture in Gauteng shortly before Youth Day about two weeks ago, and in his opening speech on Tuesday he again stressed the need for a second transition.

At a press conference a few hours later, however, Zuma was at pains to explain that the idea wasn’t his, although he did say a failure by the ANC to accept a second transition would amount to failure.

A source close to the “forces for change” camp in Gauteng said seven out of the 11 commissions rejected the concept and called for the 2007 strategy and tactics document, adopted by the Polokwane conference, to be merged with the 2012 one.

“It seems delegates want to update the 2007 document, particularly in relation to the global economy, rather than ‘leap’ into a brand new construct,” he said.

Another pro-change delegate from the North West said: “The 2007 strategy and tactics is going to stand. How can we even think of introducing a new document when policies from the previous document have not been implemented?”

The drafting of the 2007 strategy and tactics document was headed by former policy chief and now ANC national executive committee member Joel Netshitenzhe, who is now favoured by at least one lobby in Gauteng to run for the position of ANC secretary-general at the party’s elective congress in Mangaung in December.

The 2012 document was written under the leadership of ANC national executive committee member in charge of political education, Tony Yengeni.

A pro-change source from the Eastern Cape said there were attempts to convince the conference to back down from the concept without making Zuma and his supporters feel as if they were losing face.

“We are looking at rather describing it as a consolidation of our political gains, because calling it a transition would be wrong,” he said.

Some in the Eastern Cape, which is split almost 50/50 between support for and against Zuma, have been emphasising party unity above political expediency, and this could be seen as a way of achieving that.

Even Jeremy Cronin, deputy secretary-general of the SACP, which is considered sympathetic to Zuma, has questioned the term and the way it separated the political transition since 1994 from a “second” economic transition.

Cosatu has also rejected the notion.

But Zuma started the conference on a strong footing on Tuesday. The fact that those opposed to the second transition have to coax Zuma into accepting changes to the concept show they likely don’t have the numbers to impose their wishes.

Still, they might just get their way because Zuma’s supporters have implied they’re not married to the term.

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe has said before that the “second transition” could well go by names such as “hot dog”, “pig” and “rabbit”, while another minister sympathetic to Zuma yesterday told City Press it could also be called “grandpa” or “grandma”.

Discussions in the commissions on the various policy documents are set to continue this morning, and a plenary will be convened later in the day to report back on discussions and to decide on which policies will be accepted for endorsement by the Mangaung conference in December.

– Additional reporting by Mmanaledi Mataboge

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