ANC wants new constitution

Johannesburg - The ANC is contemplating dramatic changes to the country’s Constitution, including scrapping the “sunset clauses” and changing the powers of the Reserve Bank and provinces.

City Press is in possession of draft policy documents that will be distributed to the party’s branches on Monday ahead of its policy conference in June.

The documents are likely to shape the direction of government programmes if adopted at the ANC’s national conference in December.

In a section on strategy and tactics titled “The second transition”, the ANC says the Constitution of 1996 “may have been appropriate for a political transition, but it has proven inadequate and even inappropriate for a social and economic transformation phase”.

Lost moral compass

Other points to be discussed include:

- The fact that people think the party has lost its moral compass, represents a self-serving elite and is soft on corruption;
- The party is facing a “crisis of credibility” and people are beginning to doubt its capability to deliver social and economic change;
- The principle of ubuntu should be introduced to the school curriculum; and
- HIV/Aids should be made a notifiable disease.

The ANC also criticises government communicators for not effectively conveying service delivery successes and says terminology used by Planning Minister Trevor Manuel’s National Planning Commission is in conflict with that of the party. The commission speaks of a “capable state” while the ANC wants a “developmental state” that drives and controls economic growth.

On the ANC Youth League, the party says its relationship with the youth wing is important and should be “debated openly”.

Recruiting newborns

The ANC proposes recruiting children for the ANC from the day they are born, establishing a state-owned publishing company to iron out problems with textbook distribution, introducing compulsory community service for all university graduates and pushing ahead with a media appeals tribunal.

The party will also discuss introducing a BEE code for the print media sector.

The party states that South Africa’s “first transition”, which it calls a “political transition”, was about finding a national consensus and a “framework based on the sunset clauses of the negotiations”. The sunset clauses relate primarily to land and property ownership. But these are proving “inadequate and even inappropriate for a social and economic transformation phase”, or the “second transition”, which South Africa is entering.

Constitutions are “living documents and reflect the stage of development of a given society”, the ANC says.

Therefore, “there may well be elements of our Constitution that require review because they may be an impediment to social and economic transformation”.

Economic stability

This includes the “narrow mandate of the Reserve Bank or the relationship between and powers of the different spheres of government”.

Economist Iraj Abedian says the Constitution protects the independence of the Reserve Bank and scrapping this would give politicians, like ministers, room to interfere. Some in the ANC have been calling for the scrapping of inflation targeting and a weakening of the rand to, among others, boost mining exports.

“This could affect economic stability negatively,” Abedian said.

Amending the powers of the different spheres of government would give national government the power to intervene in provinces.

Provinces have already lost the power to distribute social grants, and once the National Health Insurance is in place, they will lose the power to administer health as well.

Liberation movement

The ANC also does some introspection, admitting that its “moral authority” and that of its leaders is being “called into question” and that it is “either framed as having lost its moral compass or as representing a self-serving elite”.

The party says it’s being seen, from the outside, as a “neo-patrimonial political machine to distribute power and resources among ourselves”.

It says even though much of the corruption has been exposed by measures the ANC itself has put into place, “we continue to appear soft on corruption”.

The ANC acknowledges that it’s necessary to renew itself because it is facing a “crisis of credibility”. “Doubts are beginning to creep in” among voters about whether the party can still deliver the promised changes in the next few decades.

The party also asks whether it can still call itself as a liberation movement, or whether it is increasingly becoming a political party.

“The Mangaung conference (in December) must take bold and comprehensive decisions around the renewal of the movement over the next two decades,” it says.
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