What went down in Midrand

2012-06-30 16:31

ANC members braved the Gauteng cold to have hot debates about the party’s policies. Here are the key decisions:

Organisational renewal
You can’t become an ANC member overnight any longer. A probation period of six months will be introduced to cut down on members who are recruited shortly before an elective conference – a tactic used mostly by the candidates themselves.

And to get into the national executive committee (NEC), you need 10 years of ANC membership to prove you deserve the position.

In addition, the NEC will be reduced from 80 to 60 members, so there’ll be even less room for the young and ambitious.

ANC Veterans’ League
To quote Nonhle Thema, the ANC wants the Veterans’ League to sit down.

Upset by the increasingly negative comments the league has been making about Jacob Zuma’s leadership, the ANC has, in its discussion documents, told the league to stay out of in-fighting.

“You are supposed to be bigger than this”, was the gist of the message.

ANC Women’s League
Soon, women will be taking up half the positions in the influential top-six leadership of the ANC.

In addition, delegates to ANC conferences will reflect the 50/50 parity. But the women’s league wants the ANC to “move beyond numbers games and begin to talk to real power sharing between men and women in the organisation”.

ANC members want the women’s ministry to push for gender transformation in both the public and private sectors.

The ANC promised to continue stepping up women’s economic empowerment.

Zuma said the conference had recommended “a review of all the business and industrial codes, including the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Act”, to ensure women are prioritised.

The state should centralise the selection of school textbooks and keep the titles to a minimum. Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said this conference decision would allow government to control the quality of textbooks while benefiting from the savings that economies of scale would bring.

She said this had already proven effective in Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, where the practice has meant pupils have improved access to textbooks.

The selection of books will be based on the prescription of education experts rather than the preference of schools.

It also means there will be a common textbook across curricula.

Resolutions about reviewing the number of provinces is a perennial favourite of ANC policy conferences.

The current nine provinces are there as a result of negotiations leading up to the 1994 elections.

They were meant partly to allay white fears and partly to appease province-based parties like the IFP. There have been questions since then about how efficient provinces have been in service delivery, and also whether the bureaucracy and provincial legislatures are not an excessive cost with no visible returns.

Indications are that the party wants to incorporate parts of Eastern Cape with neighbouring provinces Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, and to divide North West up among neighbouring provinces.

This could affect the power bases built up by provincial leaders, as well as the DA’s reign in Western Cape.

Greatest hits

Traditional Courts Bill
There was discontent as to how the contentious Traditional Courts Bill has been handled.

Delegates wanted more substantive public consultations with communities about the proposed law.

The bill gives traditional leaders powers to preside over traditional courts in their domains, which adjudicate civil disputes and criminal matters in line with their communities’ customs.

It has drawn flak from civil society groups and political parties for giving unfettered powers to traditional leaders, like allocating communal land.

There are fears that if passed, the bill would discriminate against women and children.

Media Appeals Tribunal
The tribunal will be put on ice for now. That’s because ANC delegates decided they were happy with the recommendations of the Press Freedom Commission.

The ANC’s Jessie Duarte said recommendations by the commission – such as apologising for a story in the same spot the story was published and the possibility of a financial sanction – all addressed the ANC’s concerns about accountability in the media.

She said the party would communicate this to its MPs, who were tasked by the party after its 2007 Polokwane conference to investigate the desirability of a media appeals tribunal.

ANC Youth League
Even though the youth league went to the conference determined to push for greater autonomy from the ANC, they found their position unchanged.

In fact, the position of league president is set to be demoted to that of chairperson, and the party is set to tighten its grip politically by forcing its leagues to undergo compulsory political training and to play their full role in the ANC.

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