Zuma lays down the law on party discipline

2010-09-25 07:22

The ANC wrapped up its national general council (NGC) yesterday, with President Jacob Zuma laying down the law on ill-discipline within the party.

“Anyone who crosses the line will face the consequences,” Zuma said to cheers from 2 000 ANC delegates.

“The NGC has agreed that the conduct of any ANC member must never undermine the standing of the ANC in public.”

Zuma said the NGC had instructed the party’s leadership to “root out” factional elements, including those in the national executive committee (NEC).

The ANC president burst into his trademark song Awulethu’ Mshini Wami after his address. He appeared confident as he closed the midterm policy review conference.

“Members of the ANC should use the art of persuasion to win people over,” he said. “We must seek to influence and be influenced.”

Zuma said the “manner” in which new ideas were evaluated was important.

“Robust debate must continue, but it has to occur within the appropriate structures and forums so that the necessary decorum can be maintained in the organisation.”

There was no need to “disrupt meetings”.

“That kind of behaviour undermines unity and constitutes ill-discipline,” he said to applause from delegates.

It was reported that the policy review commission discussion on the ANC Youth League’s (ANCYL) proposed nationalisation of mines was characterised by heckling, booing and shouting.

This was a feature at many ANCYL provincial conferences. Zuma described the disruption of meetings as an “alien tendency” in the ANC.

He urged delegates not to fail the ANC veterans, who expressed concern about discipline during a presentation to the NGC.

“We dare not fail the veterans ... who have called the organisation to order. Once the ill-disciplined begin to feel they are bigger and cleverer than the ANC, it marks the end,” he warned.

Zuma began the week by giving the ANCYL a dressing down in his opening address.

During the five-day NGC, the ruling party decided to defer the contentious issue of the media appeals tribunal to Parliament for further investigation.

Parliament would have to look into the tribunal and what form it would take.

The matter of nationalising the country’s mines was deferred to the ANC’s NEC, which has two years to examine how the state can play a keener role in the economy.

Minister in the presidency Trevor Manuel said limited resources were available and the state could not afford to pay out a fortune every time it wanted to take over a mine.

“If you going to do this in every instance, the resource debate must enter somewhere,” Manuel said.

“What the NEC must do in the next two years is look at all of these issues and answer the question of what it means.

“If every bit of tax you collect is going to pay out mine owners and not deliver on the National Health Insurance, what are the implications of that?”

Trade-offs were sometimes necessary in economies, Manuel said.

“You may have to give up on some things you may want to do. There are trade-offs in economic policy everywhere.”

The two-year probe would not be limited to the mining sector, but include sectors such as banking.

The NGC agreed to set up a state-owned mining company and a state-owned bank. It was yet to be determined whether the bank would be a new institution or whether it would take the form of a “retooled” Post Bank.

Manuel said the debate on nationalisation had dominated the commission’s debate. He described the discussions on nationalisation as “flavoursome. Like some of the curries in this part of the world, it was hot. We emerged with a position. The difficulty is how different this position is to positions already canvassed.

“The key issue is in the paragraph (in the report) of the NGC mandating the NEC to do further work on this, to take evidence from all over the world and to give the policy conference in 2012 a sense of what works and what doesn’t.”

A special cabinet meeting will be held after the NGC to give attention to the country’s “new growth path”.

“Cabinet will have to sit down in a special session and deal with this,” Manuel said.

The NGC concluded with “no new economic policy positions”, Zuma told delegates in his closing address.

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