FRIDAY BRIEFING | ANC elective conference: Coming together while falling apart

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Coming together while falling apart

This long weekend, the ANC, a once proud liberation movement, heads into its 55th elective conference, looking worse for wear.  

At 110, the party is showing its age. Fragile, vulnerable, broken. 

It is ironic that the conference gets under way on Reconciliation Day, when the party is far from reconciled.

If anything, the last 15 years since Polokwane have revealed a fractured party, where the push for power is the main concern, rather than serving citizens' interests. 

Both contenders vying for the position of ANC president - Cyril Ramaphosa and Zweli Mkhize - have clouds hanging over their heads.

Tuesday's parliamentary vote on the Section 89 report may have shown that ANC MPs have Ramaphosa's back (for now), but he still has to contend with investigations by the Hawks, SARS and the South African Reserve Bank into the Phala Phala saga.

The other contender, Mkhize, the former health minister, is accused of benefitting from a R150 million tender to provide Covid-19 communication services awarded to his close allies and friends. The case is still under investigation by the Hawks and the Special Investigating Unit (SIU).

They are not the only ones with dirty hands. Many of the nominees vying for a Top 6 position have a black mark against their name, in some way or the other. 

As News24 columnist Mpumelelo Mkhabela writes in this week's Friday Briefing, the ANC can no longer bank on its larger-than-life presence, as its struggle credentials disappear into obscurity. He examines what this means for the new, "no-brand" younger generation looking to take over, such as Paul Mashatile. 

Analyst Professor Tinyiko Maluleke reflects on what we are likely to see coming out of the conference, saying whoever becomes president is likely to make another meaningless promise to South African citizens, who are getting tired of party shenanigans. 

News24 columnist and former ANC member, Mbhazima Shilowa, who was at the ANC's Polokwane conference in 2007, draws parallels between what happened there and what we are likely to see this time around. 

Finally, Nelson Mandela University's Dr Ongama Mtimka examines what South Africans should expect beyond the elective conference and into 2023. 

Hope you enjoy the read over this long weekend. 


Vanessa Banton

Opinions editor.

Vulnerable and ordinary: The challenge for the new class of ANC leader

With the weakening of Cyril Ramaphosa, the myth of a larger-than-life ANC is disappearing, writes Mpumelelo Mkhabela. He asks what impact will Paul Mashatile and his class have on the ANC in light of this.

Possibilities of an elective conference for a troubled political party

The biggest political game in the land – the ANC vs the ANC – gets under way on Friday. Tinyiko Maluleke writes that the stakes have never been lower. Nor has the leadership bar.

Harking back to the past: Shades of Polokwane at Nasrec 2.0

In the same way, that policy discussions were furthest from the minds of delegates at the ANC's Polokwane conference, Nasrec 2.0 appears to be heading in the same direction, with the focus on the contest for leadership positions, writes Mbhazima Shilowa.

Beyond the contending varieties of capture: The ANC and SA after 2022

Crime statistics, the disease burden of the country, the housing backlog, poverty, inequality, and unemployment, among other things, suggest that we face a multifaceted crisis of catastrophic proportions that the current political economic arrangements are unlikely to address, writes Ongama Mtimka.

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