December conference crucial as step-aside policy continues to trouble ANC

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  • The ANC concluded its policy conference, which was held over three days at Nasrec in Johannesburg. 
  • Cyril Ramaphosa said there was hope regarding the possibility of the party's renewal and revival. 
  • Ramaphosa's message on the step-aside policy, though, showed the ANC had not resolved the matter entirely. 

President Cyril Ramaphosa presented a mixed outcome as to where the ANC stood on its controversial step-aside policy, signalling that the fight to scrap it may not be over. 

Ramaphosa said ANC members had supported the resolution when discussing policy amendments at the national policy conference at Nasrec in Johannesburg. 

He added a caveat, though, saying concerns about the resolution should be considered and discussed. 

ANALYSIS | ANC policy conference: Taking the party's temperature

The resolution was first adopted in 2017 and dictated that members in elected positions, who face criminal charges, should step aside. 

It was amended this year by the ANC's national executive committee (NEC).

The NEC said the same members could not contest for elective positions. 

ANC provinces in KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo had raised concerns about the selective application of the rule.

ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule has been suspended since 2021 because of the rule, as well as other ANC figures. 

Zandile Gumede, the regional eThekwini leader, could not stand for a treasurer position at the provincial conference earlier this month because of corruption charges.

When addressing the matter, Ramaphosa received a mixed reaction, with several applauses from delegates as he explained where the party stood on the rule and its future. 

"The overwhelming view at the conference was that the step-aside resolution should remain to enhance the integrity of the movement and its leadership. The conference also noted the conceived perception of this policy's selective application and implementation. These must receive urgent attention, so that the guidelines' application is fair, impartial and consistent," Ramaphosa said. 

The KwaZulu-Natal ANC chairperson, Bheki Mtolo, told News24 on Saturday that, even if the province was defeated on the step-aside matter at the policy conference, it was sure to win the matter in December. 

The ANC in KZN wants the policy scrapped. 

READ | 'ANC policies are not the Bible' - KZN determined to fight its battles at December conference

The December conference, where the ANC passes its final policies, will be attended by all ANC branches. 

The policy conference had a handful of the party's members in attendance.

Ramaphosa's closing address was short.

He summarised some of the party's policy recommendations.

He said delegates had resolved to establish a state bank. The ANC proposes using the Post Bank for this purpose. 

The ANC also rehashed its 2017 resolution on the Reserve Bank, encouraging leaders in the government to change its private status. 

Ramaphosa said the party wanted local government to be overhauled. It would mean funding it and ensuring that it was filled with competently qualified people. 

On renewal, Ramaphosa said the conference had given its members hope that it was "alive" and could be revived. 

There was also a glimpse of what was ahead in December, as well as Ramaphosa's ambitions for a second term, with some delegates singing "Phakama Ramaphosa" as he wrapped up his speech. 

The policies proposed at the conference will be considered by branches ahead of the ANC national conference in December.

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