ANC eyes way forward

2015-11-06 11:15
ANC provincial secretary Sihle Zikalala and PEC member Hlengiwe Mavimbela addressing the media on the preparations for the provincial conference.

ANC provincial secretary Sihle Zikalala and PEC member Hlengiwe Mavimbela addressing the media on the preparations for the provincial conference. (Sabelo Nsele)

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Pietermaritzburg - The provincial ANC conference starting today will give party members the chance to reflect honestly on the state of the organisation, secretary Sihle Zikalala said.

The 1 300 delegates coming from 753 qualified branches will look to elect new provincial leaders this weekend in what is expected to be a close contest between two political heavyweights in the province, Zikalala and provincial chairperson Senzo Mchunu.

The conference will go ahead at the Royal Showgrounds despite the party’s biggest region in the country, eThekwini, having failed to hold a successful conference in more than four attempts.

Yesterday Zikalala said the party will deal with factionalism, which was also highlighted by President Jacob Zuma earlier this month when he announced that the party had lost almost a quarter of its members in the space of three years.

“We have to deal with factionalism. We cannot allow it to become a norm. We will not allow delegates to be singing or chanting derogatory songs that might insult and divide leaders,” he said.

Zikalala said the conference would give members a chance to engage in robust debate.

“We are going to look at organisational renewal, bringing back the respect and tradition of the ANC,” he said.

Previous conferences have been rocked by money exchanging hands to swing votes.

Zikalala admitted it was very difficult for the party to deal with such tendencies. “If you start trying to look for those people, you will not find the money,” he said.

While “friends of the conference” have become the norm at ANC conferences, Zikalala said this time he does not expect them to show up.

Friends of the conference, Zikalala said, are party lobbyists who are not part of the voting delegates, but come to sing songs that support their preferred candidate outside the venue.

“We need no friends of the conference. No one should be toyi-toyiing and singing outside waiting to be addressed. Members will be addressed in their branches,” he said.

“We move into this conference focused on progressive and peaceful engagements with all the delegates. Equally, we have made all arrangements to ensure that the conference will be held in an atmosphere that is characterised by peace, respect and the behaviour that is in line with culture and the tradition of this time-tested and glorious liberation movement of the people.

“All necessary security measures have been put into place to secure the conference and all the guests.”

President Zuma will deliver the keynote address at the conference.

No matter what the outcome of the voting will be, Zikalala said he will continue to serve the ANC.

“We are not the alpha and omega of the ANC, we joined it and we will live it,” he said.

Zikalala said even if Mchunu was to lose his position as the provincial chairperson, he will continue to serve as the premier.

“This is an ANC conference, not a government conference,” he said.

Zikalala would not be drawn to comment about the possibility of two centres of power should Mchunu not retain his party position.

The ANC has been vocal on the issue of two centres of power.

“We will discuss matters as and when they become relevant,” he said.

Zikalala said the provincial conference will not be “a mirror of the party’s 2017 national leadership conference”.

“In some quarters the issue of 2017 is serious. If you go to Gauteng for instance, the issue is being discussed. But here, we have not started discussing it,” he said.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  anc

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