ANC policy conference reaffirms step-aside rule, Reserve Bank nationalisation but defers other tough discussions

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ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa delivering his opening address of the sixth ANC Policy Conference in Nasrec. Photo: Tebogo Letsie
ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa delivering his opening address of the sixth ANC Policy Conference in Nasrec. Photo: Tebogo Letsie


The sixth ANC policy conference concluded with many unanswered questions, as delegates could not discuss several critical and contentious issues affecting the governing party.

Delegates were expected to robustly discuss the step-aside guidelines, but moves to scrap this rule were defeated as it was reaffirmed with concerns about its application. The step-aside principle requires those charged with serious offences to step aside from their leadership positions.

Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal were the only provinces opposed to the step-aside guidelines, but their voices were drowned in the commissions with other provinces supporting it. The newly elected KwaZulu-Natal leadership tried to argue that it was selectively implemented to purge targeted people, but the conference, held in Nasrec, south of Johannesburg this weekend, reaffirmed the principle but noted concerns about its implementation.

In his closing address, president Cyril Ramaphosa remarked: 

The overwhelming view of the policy conference is for the retention of the step-aside provision to enhance the integrity of the movement and its leadership. The conference noted strong concerns about the perceived lack of consistency in the application and implementation of the policy. It agreed that these must receive urgent attention so that the application of the guidelines is impartial, fair and consistent.

The Phala Phala farmgate scandal also failed to make it into the discussions.

Acting secretary-general and treasurer Paul Mashatile said the issue of Ramaphosa could not be discussed because the internal process of him appearing before the ANC’s integrity commission had begun.

READ: Ramaphosa calls for solutions, solutions, solutions at ANC policy conference

Mashatile told the media at the press conference that it was pointless to discuss the issue when the integrity committee had not completed its process.

“The president met with the integrity committee this week and they could not complete the process. A new date will be decided and we’ll await their briefing,” he said.

City Press has learnt that a Mpumalanga delegate was ejected from a commission on governance after he persistently tried to raise the matter.

But Mashatile insisted that delegates were allowed to express their views freely.

“We told the commission chairperson to allow delegates to express their feelings on any issues they wanted to raise.”

Mashatile also defended the delegate selection process, which was criticised for being pro-Ramaphosa.

He said unlike the national conference where all delegates and branches in good standing were the benchmark for attendance, seats were allocated based on provincial membership tallies.

We allowed provinces to choose delegates who would attend the policy conference, but we put emphasis on the branch delegates rather than PECs.

Delegates were also worried that the policy conference discussed issues without knowing which policies taken at the 54th national conference in 2017 were implemented and which were not.

READ: ANC: We are at our weakest

At the conference opening on Friday, delegates spent more time demanding a full report detailing which policies were implemented.

In his closing address, Ramaphosa said the policy conference “noted once again the historical anomaly of private ownership of the

SA Reserve Bank, and reaffirmed the 54th national conference resolution that the bank should be fully owned by the state. Delegates urged the ANC government to find mechanisms to restructure the ownership structure in a manner and at a pace that took account of the likely cost implications for the fiscus”.

He said delegates also urged that the process for establishing a state bank be accelerated.

On Eskom, Ramaphosa said the conference had endorsed measures he announced last week to deal with the energy crisis.

“Conference has endorsed the actions recently announced by government to improve the performance of Eskom’s existing power stations and to add new generation capacity to the grid as quickly as possible.

“It has affirmed the need for a diverse mix of energy sources and a just transition to a low-carbon economy that ensures our energy security, protects jobs and livelihoods, and does not compromise our industrial development.”

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