From Polokwane to Durban

2010-09-18 13:15

President Jacob Zuma is expected to ­report back on how far the ANC has gone in bringing unity to the ruling alliance when he opens the party’s five-day national general council (NGC) today.

Zuma, who was elected ANC president at Polokwane in December 2007 in a bitterly contested conference, is also expected to touch on progress the governing party has made in growing the economy, fighting crime, and alleviating poverty and HIV/Aids.

ANC spokesperson Ishmael Mnisi said the core of the president’s speech would be a political evaluation of whether or not the ANC had successfully carried out its Polokwane mandate, which is contained in Zuma’s first January 8 statement which he delivered at the Lucas Moripe Stadium in Atteridgeville, Pretoria, in 2008, and what the ANC promised the electorate in its manifesto last year.

Mnisi said: “The president will touch on the mandate from Polokwane and whether the ANC has managed politically to fulfil that mandate. Secretary-general Gwede Mantashe will deal with the administrative matters of the organisation.”

In his closing remarks at the Polokwane conference, Zuma stressed the importance of unity in the tripartite alliance. But his address comes at a time when Cosatu has warned that the alliance faced the risk of implosion.

Zuma is expected to reiterate that the alliance had more in common than meets the eye.

Speaking at the ANC Limpopo provincial general council at Makhado township near Louis Trichardt two weeks ago, Zuma urged ANC members to respect the will of the majority.

He said: “If the majority votes for a comrade that you believe is not capable to lead, but they think he or she is capable to lead once the voting has taken place, it binds you if you’re a minority.

“You have absolutely no right after the elections to go around saying this comrade who is incompetent, whatever, has been elected and we’re in trouble.”

Zuma said it was up to cadres to help fellow comrades who they thought were not competent to be more competent.

Turning his focus on the alliance partners, Zuma said they too had the responsibility to be loyal to the ruling party as the leader of the alliance.

He said leaders of the components of the alliance should be loyal and refrain from saying bad things about one another.

“If there are issues of concern, I must raise them through proper procedures in the movement. That is serious loyalty that is demanded of all of us, irrespective of the positions we hold,” the president said.

Zuma has lately come under severe pressure from Cosatu – which is unhappy with his administration’s economic growth path – and the ANC Youth League. The league is demanding that Zuma accept their controversial proposal to nationalise the country’s mines or face the prospect of not serving a second term.

Mantashe recently said he did not “have a sense that this alliance is about to collapse”, and added that the ANC had allowed the allies to have more representatives at its NGC – 30 each – so that they could “engage” the ANC.

He said there was a tendency for “vocal and arrogant” members to “intimidate the rest into silence” in debates, but said the ANC needed “conscious” members to save it in the long run.

He said: “We must analyse the simmering mood within sections of our movement that wish to see the NGC divert from the intended cause. It is only comrades whose political fortunes depend on a movement in crisis who will work hard and ensure that the NGC becomes chaotic. It is our responsibility therefore to ensure that we deprive them of that environment because we need an NGC that will give us results.”

At the Polokwane conference, Zuma promised that the ruling party planned to redistribute 30% of agrarian land by 2014. He is expected to report back on the progress his government has made on that score. He is also supposed to report back on the progress the ANC has made in preparing for its centenary celebrations in 2012.

The Durban indaba takes place ahead of the 2011 local government elections, and the president is expected to speak about the party’s preparedness for the municipal polls.

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