Party tightens rules on dissent

2012-12-21 00:00

THE ANC’s commission on constitutional amendments yesterday revealed stringent changes to the party’s rules on organisational renewal and disciplinary procedures.

The changes, announced at the ANC’s national conference in Mangaung, amount to a significant strengthening of the party’s internal disciplinary processes in an attempt to quell dissent among members and alliance partners.

The amendments state that an ANC member, office bearer or public representative of the party can be accused of misconduct and disciplinary proceedings may be instituted against them for “doing any act or making any utterance which brings or could bring or has potential to bring or as a consequence thereof brings the ANC into disrepute”.

Quelling dissent in this way is seen by analysts as an attempt to stifle criticism of the ANC by the likes of outspoken Cosatu general secretary Zwelenzima Vavi.

Reporting from the commission, Andries Nel, Collins Chabane and John Jeffery said the conference had accepted the decision of the Constitutional Court last week to bar members of the Free State provincial executive committee from participating in the conference.

Significantly, in light of this and controversial recent court challenges, the conference also agreed to recognise the right of disgruntled ANC members to take the party to court.

“In all circumstances, ANC members are allowed to take the party to court,” Chabane said, but added that members must first exhaust all internal processes.

The conference also acknowledged that the slew of legal challenges launched against the party recently pointed to a lack of trust in the party’s internal structures to bring redress to disgruntled members.

The recognition at the conference of the right of members to take the party to court is a contradiction of the position of ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, who said last week that ANC members who take the party to court effectively expel themselves.

The commission also successfully broadened the jurisdiction of the ANC’s national disciplinary committee to include public officials and amended the constitution to include financial transgressions among the misdemeanours that can lead to the expulsion of a member.

Fraud, theft, money laundering and racketeering are all included among the financial misdemeanours that can launch the ANC’s internal disciplinary procedures.

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