1 member, 1 vote is on the cards

2017-07-09 06:02

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One of the main policy proposals made by the Eastern Cape branch of the ANC at the national policy conference this week was warmly received by delegates.

If adopted, the proposed “one member, one vote” will culminate in all party members of good standing voting directly for their preferred leader.

This will deal effectively with the factionalism and vote-buying that is rife in the current system, where leaders are voted into power by branch delegates.

ANC provincial secretary Oscar Mabuyane, who has been championing the idea, spoke to City Press after the five-day conference ended.

Mabuyane described the one member, one vote proposal as “radical and revolutionary” as its intentions were to connect the ANC directly with its members.

“The idea is also to expand our support base and attract members through the incentive of knowing that they will no longer cede their rights to delegates to vote for leadership on their behalf. They [members] can vote for leadership where they are.

“Remember that the ANC belongs to the masses of this country, not any individual. Our democratic centralism of ceding power to delegates has not been working well, given all the challenges of factionalism, corruption and vote-buying. So we needed to think more broadly.”

ANC 'not in a hurry'

Mabuyane said the party had theorised enough about its revolution and done little practical work, adding that it was time to be more practical in changing material conditions.

Mabuyane said the concept of one member, one vote was still in its “embryonic stage” as the idea had been thrown into the public space only two weeks before the policy conference.

“Had we had more than six months to process it, conceptualise it properly and engage other people about it, it would surely have received more support than it did.

“But, generally, no one has an issue with it because people want us to find a permanent panacea to the challenges of factionalism, gatekeeping, withholding of membership and all these kinds of foreign tendencies that are dragging the ANC’s name into the mud.”

Mabuyane said the concept would be tweaked for the ANC elective conference in December.

He expressed the hope that it would be considered in future as it was already practised by more advanced democracies.

“It is high time we are able to look at it as well and, if we implement it, it will surely give all members the certainty that ANC leadership is not about a top-down approach, but one that is from the bottom up,” he said.

The provincial secretary said that, although the plan was for the future, there was nothing stopping the governing party from implementing it in December if branches adopted it and the party was ready.

“It may not be implemented in December, but it still can be implemented. Remember that it is one of the three options that the commission brought forward. It is the second option. The first is the current status quo. If we can be ready by December to really radicalise our electoral college, that is an option for us if we do not go with the current system.

“But in the ANC, we give ourselves time. We must first be convinced about its practical application, which is critical. We are not in a hurry. We should ask this question – in future, how are we projecting our developmental trajectory as an organisation in terms of broadening our membership base?”

In their presentation on the outcomes of commission discussions on strategy and tactics, and on organisational renewal at the policy conference, the ANC’s Febe Potgieter-Gqubule and party heavyweight Joel Netshitenzhe said the proposal was achievable, although it was a radical departure from how the party elected leaders.

“There are other parties around the world who elect directly. I think they call them primaries, which means you don’t have an electoral college where delegates represent membership. You have a system where people vote for their regional, provincial and national executives directly,” said Potgieter-Gqubule.

“That is possible with technology. We already do that as a country [during general elections] with a few million voters.”

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