Zuma proposes 'consequences' for ANC members who run to court

2017-12-16 18:49
President Jacob Zuma. (Gianluigi Guercia, AFP)

President Jacob Zuma. (Gianluigi Guercia, AFP)

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Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma has proposed that the ANC's national elective conference decide on suitable sanctions for members who take the party to court.

Zuma opened the party's national elective conference in Nasrec, Johannesburg, on Saturday with his political report.

The party's outgoing president said he "couldn't understand" why so many ANC members chose to go to court to challenge internal disputes.

"ANC members should use internal dispute processes. Judges should not be asked to dictate ANC internal processes and the direction of the movement," he said, to applause from the 5 000-strong delegations.

He said this was not in keeping with the customs and policies of the ANC - that if members disagreed with each other, they no longer allowed the party's internal structures to do their work to address the matters.

"At the drop of a hat, then members are in court. It is gradually eroding the authority of the ANC.

"We can't begin to believe that courts are a solution to ANC problems. It's wrong, it can't be right, unless it's a matter the ANC can't resolve."

Zuma said the party had resolved at its 2012 conference in Mangaung that members who chose to approach the courts before exhausting internal processes should be "expelled".

"But we have never mentioned it, so perhaps that's a problem that the leadership must accept the blame [for] at all levels," he conceded.

"Let us take a decision to implement... that if the leader does not implement [sanctions], there must be consequences.

"I think it's important to deal with this issue, so we are out of courts."

Parliament's role

Zuma was also equally scathing of members who publicly criticised party positions, or acted in "counter-revolutionary" ways, particularly in Parliament.

"We need to reaffirm the authority of the organisation over its individual members. There should be consequences for any member who speaks contrary to values of the ANC."

He said that the party had not looked at how its members in Parliament could keep it accountable, without actively siding with the opposition.

"This new role has to some degree created confusion, with the role of opposition parties that seek to discredit government at all costs.

"The danger also exists for factional interests to play themselves out in Parliament, to the extent that the ruling party even votes itself out of power if this is left unchecked."

His rebuke seemed to be aimed at the 30 or so MPs who voted with opposition MPs in support of a motion against his presidency in August, via secret ballot.

Prayers for unity in the house divided

The opening session was delayed by an hour and a half, as delegates waited for the top six leaders to enter the venue.

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma's supporters were out in full force, chanting their candidate's name, while her opponent Cyril Ramaphosa's supporters were comparably quieter.

Zuma and Ramaphosa greeted Dlamini-Zuma and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela as they entered, before national chairperson Baleka Mbete kicked things off.

The session started with various inter-faith prayers, some alluding to a house divided, and the "devils among us" that sought to divide the ANC.

Others prayed that the newly elected leaders would unite the party.

The party will formally nominate the candidates for positions later on Saturday. The new leadership is expected to be announced on Sunday.

Visit our special report, #ANCVotes, for all the news, analysis and opinions about the ANC’s national elective conference.

Read more on:    anc  |  jacob zuma  |  johannesburg  |  anc leadership race  |  anc votes  |  courts

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