- President Cyril Ramaphosa gave the opening address at the start of the ANC policy conference on Friday.
- His speech lasted more than an hour, but delegates were less than enthusiastic about his message.
- The ANC's alliance partners, the SACP and Cosatu, were better received as they talked about land, wages and the need for a state bank.
President Cyril Ramaphosa received a muted response from delegates in his policy conference opening address that lasted more than an hour.
The usual cheers and energetic applauses that signify ANC conferences were few and far between.
It was the ANC's alliance leaders, Solly Mapaila of the SACP and Costau's Zingiswa Losi, who garnered more robust responses from delegates as they addressed critical concerns about the state of the ANC and its performance in government.
Ramaphosa's talking points focused on the economy, unemployment, gender-based violence, local government, and the ANC's need to renew itself.
His most striking point was his assessment that local government was where the state was the weakest.
The ANC was not improving its service delivery in local government and instead was regressing, the ANC leader warned.
Ramaphosa said the ANC was losing support because of poor accountability, oversight, fraud, and corruption.
"This situation has resulted in declining levels of voter participation in elections and diminishing support for the ANC. This resulted in the loss of several key metros.
"In our experience since then, it has demonstrated that coalition governments are ill-suited to drive development and provide quality services effectively."
He talked tough on what he viewed as the party's need not to deal with corruption for false unity.
Ramaphosa said the ANC had to earn its role in society.
His points on not paying "lip service" to age and gender diversity in the ANC garnered the biggest cheers from the ANC Youth League and ANC Women's League delegation.
Mapaila was unprepared for his support message because he was told at the last minute about his addition to the programme.
He had earlier, along with Losi, joined striking ANC workers outside the Nasrec conference venue.
Mapaila chastised the party for not paying its workers on time.
Despite his lack of preparedness, he made it clear his issues with the ANC needed no prearrangement.
Mapaila hit home the message the ANC was in turmoil and had to fix itself, and attacked the party for not doing enough to ensure the mandate of the SA Reserve Bank was changed to help deal with the country's unemployment.
He especially took issue with the fact the ANC and its alliance partners had never held an economic summit.
Mapaila also questioned why the party had not achieved its promises of establishing a state bank.
"The Reserve Bank at the moment only serves the interests of big capital," he said to loud applause.
"We need to rebuild these state-owned enterprises instead of destroying them. These are instruments of development."
He said the ANC policy conference had to come out with clear resolutions on land and he could not "dilly dally" around that topic.
Losi added the ANC had to rebuild its values of unity, honesty and constructive criticism, hitting hard at the ANC for not paying its workers their outstanding salaries.
She also took exception to ANC ministers who had received a 3% salary increase while the government had rejected public servants' request for a wage hike.
Ramaphosa said the party had to emerge from the conference with tangible solutions, especially on unemployment.
The conference ends on Sunday.