Why the ANC needs an early conference

2016-09-04 14:45
Paul Mashatile.

Paul Mashatile.

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma will receive a formal proposal for an early elective conference on Monday morning.

This weekend, the ANC Youth League readied itself to present the document to party officials, who meet every Monday, before going on a countrywide road trip to lobby ANC provincial structures to back its call.

The governing party’s poor performance during the recent municipal elections has led to different structures of the alliance proposing myriad solutions to stem the loss of support.

ANC Gauteng chairperson Paul Mashatile said on Friday that the ANC was “at a tipping point”.

“Our movement generally, and the ANC in particular, is in tatters. We have steered off course and the ANC ship is in stormy waters,” he added.

The ANC in Gauteng, as well as the SA Communist Party (SACP), called for a consultative conference to discuss possible solutions.

A minimum of five ANC provincial structures have to support the proposal for an early conference to go ahead. So far, only the ANC Women’s League, whose national executive committee (NEC) was sitting this weekend, was promising to back the youth league.

On the back of a meeting, held on Thursday between ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe and provincial ANC secretaries – where the proposal was touched upon, City Press heard – at least two provincial ANC leaders did not support the idea, while two others were willing to listen, or proposed an alternative such as a consultative conference.

Speaking to City Press this week, youth league secretary-general Njabulo Nzuza explained that if they had their way, the conference – set to take place in December 2017 – would happen in June next year.

“There is urgency in saving the ANC,” he said of the mere six-month difference.

The youth league remained mum on its preferred candidate. All members would say was that they did not oppose the women’s league call for a female president.

The league’s presentation was expected to include a bid to make changes to ANC structures by creating the new position of a second deputy secretary-general to the party’s top six.

The league was also expected to propose that the national executive committee be trimmed down from 80 to 60 members.

Nzuza explained that the bureaucracy of the NEC meant that the ANC was unable to implement NEC resolutions at government level, resulting in the decline in support at the polls.

North West – where youth league president Collen Maine was previously an MEC – was the first province to shoot down the call for an early conference.

But this has not deterred the youth league.

“If Supra Mahumapelo [North West ANC chairperson] said there is no need for an early conference, it does not mean that we must not go to him,” said Nzuza.

“We will go to the province, request a meeting with the provincial executive committee and outline our reasons for having an early conference. The ANC must be united. It must not be a contested conference.”

He said the party could ill-afford another conference that was not united after the divisiveness characterising its past two conferences.

Mashatile said a consultative conference was preferable.

“What we need is a broad consultative conference convened by the ANC … We should start a process of consulting and engaging various formations such as churches, veterans, progressive businesspeople and others that we will identify prior to the conference,” Mashatile said.

“The steps that need to be taken in preparation for such a conference are crucial if we are to restore the glory of the ANC.

“These steps should enable the ANC to emerge stronger and better focused as an agent of change.”

The SACP voiced its concerns about the call for an early conference.

“The premier league, which has captured strategic ANC provinces, will want an early conference. They can have an early conference, retain the status quo and then tell you that ‘we are from a conference’. It does not change real issues,” second secretary-general Solly Mapaila told City Press.

“If you call for a conference and the early conference cannot bring about the unity of the movement, whoever wins over the ANC at that conference will be winning a shell of the ANC,” he added.

“It will be just be a shell, not the ANC inside. The purpose of having an early conference must be to rebuild or reorientate the ANC.”

The new and improved ANC leadership which would emerge from the conference, according to the youth league, would have to be made up of young blood.

This did not refer to anyone in the youth league, but rather to the “generation before” them.

“Look at Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa, KwaZulu-Natal chairperson Sihle Zikalala, Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula and Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba. We believe that some of these young leaders must make it to the top six or seven. The issue is that in the whole NEC, you must see more young people. Some of them need to find expression in the top seven – that is the principle,” Nzuza said.

However, a provincial ANC leader said such an early conference was “likely to further polarise the movement and we cannot afford that”.

Another said the call was likely to “deepen the crisis” the ANC was already facing after its poor showing in last month’s polls.

Tell us

Do you think an early elective conference will benefit the ANC or work against the party?

SMS us on 35697 using the keyword CONFERENCE. Please include your name and province. SMSes cost R1.50

Read more on:    anc  |  politics

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Financial advisors – Do you need one and should you get one?

The good, the bad, and everything else you need to know when considering hiring a financial advisor.


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.