Factions work on battle plans

2012-07-02 00:00

THE ANC policy conference has sharpened the battle lines within the ruling party as it prepares to elect its next president in Mangaung in December.

The four-day conference at Gallagher Estate in Midrand last week served as a means for testing the waters for all concerned.

In the weeks ahead it will be back to the drawing board for the different lobby groups as well as for the ANC leadership. The factions will be working on their battle plans while the leadership will have to face up to how it is going to deal with fierce lobbying and any fallout from the succession battle.

The ANC also has its work cut out to shape the plethora of recommendations that emerged into understandable and implementable policies that will have to be further workshopped before being voted on at Mangaung.

As for contenders for the position of the next president of the ANC — there are Zuma and Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale, who have signalled their availability.

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe continues to remain coy about whether he will do so. According to reports, his supporters are getting frustrated that he is not showing his hand.

The factions over the leadership remain broadly divided into Zuma supporters and a second grouping that has become known as the “Anyone but Zuma” (ABZ) faction. The ABZs are said to favour Motlanthe, but could accept Sexwale if the deputy president declines to stand.

Zuma’s bid for a second term appeared to suffer a setback when the title “second transition” for the proposal he punted as a means for the country to gain economic freedom was dropped. Instead delegates accepted the equally vague “second phase in the transition” as a future socio-economic policy path for the country. This recommendation will be whipped into shape in the weeks ahead when it will become clear what the second phase actually means and how it plans to change the socio-economic landscape of SA over the next 20 years.

Analyst Aubrey Matshiqi is not persuaded that the defeat of the term “second transition” signals a decisive shift away from Zuma.

There seemed to be a compromise on the proposed policy for nationalisation of mines, long championed by Zuma’s nemesis, the ousted ANC Youth League leader, Julius Malema. Reports leaked from the conference floor indicated that Zuma was defeated on this score with six of the nine provinces supporting nationalisation. However, when the policy eventually emerged there was no mention of nationalisation, but rather a call for state intervention.

The apparent compromise on policies showed that no faction emerged outright winners. They were not strong enough to defeat each other so were forced to compromise.

As for reports of clashes at the conference, in a gathering of over 3 500 delegates the throwing of water bottles and two North West delegates slugging it out hardly appear to be chaos. In previous political party gatherings chairs were used as missiles.

Matshiqi, who prior to the policy conference wrote about going in search of a hard hat, said overall delegates behaved themselves. There were group confrontations and songs for or against Zuma were sung, but these petered out with neither group wanting outright confrontation.

The ANC’s policy gathering was a scene-setter. It dealt with words and documents. The next stage will involve calculators. The factions in their strategic plans will have to play the numbers game to gauge their support. In the end who gets voted in as the new leader of the ANC and what policies get adopted will depend on the votes garnered.

The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal, which is supporting Zuma, certainly has an edge. It has the largest number of members and will be sending the biggest delegation to Mangaung. But according to a member this does not make Zuma confident. What does though, is that “Zuma is at his best when his back is against the wall”.

• nalini@witness.co.za

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