ANC deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte has warned policy conference delegates that there will be no space for campaigning for their favoured leaders.
The ANC’s 5th policy conference gets underway at Nasrec, amidst succession talk that has divided the party between the presidential campaigns of deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa and former African Union chair Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
Both factions are expected to use the conference to gauge support ahead of the December elective conference.
Duarte told News24 that songs and slogans on leadership preferences would not be allowed.
“It is not a conference where you going to be singing songs about each other, we will not allow T-shirts with slogans, placards with slogans. This is going to be a space to debate, you will be allowed to talk and influence other people,” she said.
“You can’t choose a leadership unless you know what they have to lead,” Duarte continued. She said the party was taking the policy conference seriously, to stem the decline in party support.
“We cannot allow this country to fall back in the hands of those that ran it before,” she said.
Radical economic transformation, the high unemployment rate, and land are expected to spark heated debates at the conference.
While both factions agree that the three topics will dominate the agenda, they differ on how “radical” the ANC needs to be in solutions to the challenges.
Duarte said the delegates should only decide on leaders once policy had been decided. The ANC will only open formal leadership nominations in September.
“Radically transforming the structure of [the] economy, it’s not going to leave us unscathed. There will be a push back from people who have benefited from the economy for decades. So we need a leadership with strength of character, strength of mind, backed by good policy, to say the time has come for more black people to take ownership of the means of production,” Duarte said.
“It can’t be right that a minority owns the means of production and the minority itself is comfortable with that. They must be part of changing and be a part of the solution, but initially, they will be against it. We need leadership to make them part of [the] solution.”
Internal party challenges
On the issue of land, the party is divided on whether Section 25 of the Constitution needs to be amended to allow for expropriation of land without compensation.
Duarte said implementing land policy shouldn’t create “civil strife”.
“We know, all over Africa, the minute that land redistribution question has arisen, leadership of that country has been demonised by the entire world because that was the whole purpose of colonisation, and to give it back to the people of the country is a hard thing to do,” Duarte said.
The ANC would dedicate two days to deal with internal party challenges, including gatekeeping, the use of money to buy votes, manipulation of membership systems, and slates in succession battles.
This is despite party stalwarts and former Umkhonto we Sizwe commissars pulling out of the consultative conference after the ANC NEC rejected their proposal to separate it from the policy conference. They are expected to hold their consultative conference in August.[Source: News24]