South Africa


The wrap (for now): We either deal with corruption or we perish as an organisation – Ramaphosa

The wrap (for now): We either deal with corruption or we perish as an organisation – Ramaphosa
President Cyril Ramaphosa. (Photo: Leila Dougan)

ANC renewal and unity on Tuesday remained perennial as the governing party, unprecedentedly, adjourned its national conference without adopting policy commission reports and resolutions. However, second-term party president Cyril Ramaphosa gave a few hints in his closing address to a hall that was barely half-full.

Better and quality service delivery with a focus on energy and water security. Quality education and healthcare regardless of the ability to pay, as envisaged by the National Health Insurance (NHI). 

Economic transformation through accelerated spending on infrastructure, fibre provisioning in rural areas through, for example, incentives, tax rebates and private sector compacts, and a focus on rural and township economic development. 

Dealing with the “turmoil of load shedding”, as President Cyril Ramaphosa put it in Tuesday’s adjourning of conference address, was another policy point. As was redressing “the original sin of land dispossession” through measures to accelerate land reform and support productive land use. 

From Ramaphosa’s signals, the ANC’s policy direction fundamentally remains on track, including pledges to fight corruption, and economic transformation for inclusive growth. So no surprises there, nor in the briefing by rapporteurs of the various policy commissions, who gave what was described as the “flavour” of discussions. 

No real details could be provided as commission reports and resolutions must first be adopted. This can only happen after the conference, which was adjourned to provincial hybrid sessions, on 5 January. It’s now part of the lead-up to the January 8 statement that traditionally sets the ANC’s policy priorities for the year. 

A delegate gets up on stage and congratulates Ramaphosa on his second term on the last day of the ANC’s 55th national conference at Nasrec in Johannesburg, South Africa, on 20 December 2022. (Photo: Leila Dougan)

The 55th ANC national elective conference ended on Tuesday as it started on Friday — messily, fraught and unresolved. 

The plenary hall was mostly empty by the time Ramaphosa started his address; transport pressure by delegates in distant provinces was cited as a reason, along with the messy registration process. 

Given the nature of the heavily contested leadership, Ramaphosa pledged to pursue party unity — and lay down the unity line for everyone to toe. 

“The branches have spoken by choosing the leadership that emerges from here. Once the branches have made their choice all of us are expected to fall in line and embrace and accept the decisions that are taken here,” said Ramaphosa. 

Such renewal and unity were needed even if tense moments would arise in the fight against corruption within ANC ranks, which was “a dire threat to the continued existence of the ANC”. 

Despite progress made over the past five years, more needed to be done to end corruption and reverse the effects of State Capture in the state, society and in party ranks. 

“We have no choice: we either deal with this problem [corruption] or we perish as an organisation,” said Ramaphosa. 

It was one of the harder points in the presidential speech. Much of it was also about how the ANC had astounded opponents and critics. 

“As always, we’ve ended up as a united organisation, much to the surprise of those who do not wish us well,” said Ramaphosa, adding the party he leads for a second term now followed the “path of principled unity”. 

Messy and dysfunctional

But the 2022 Nasrec ANC elective national conference had been messy, and in many respects dysfunctional. 

Delays came right at the beginning with a messy and drawn-out registration process that left some delegates with upside-down photos and wrongly placed party logos and names on their conference tags. That up to a quarter of branch delegates designated to attend the conference were substituted by others, did not help. A bunch of Free State delegates’ tags were snatched in a heated moment, according to the credentials report to the plenary. 

Delays also arose from and caused the horse-trading, cajoling and slate deal-making which continued messily right to the start of the voting. 

That meant votes were split. 

It worked against supporters of ex-health minister Zweli Mkhize, who lost his presidency challenge, when Mzwandile Masina, the former Ekurhuleni mayor, only withdrew in favour of ANC national spokesperson Pule Mabe while voting was under way. 

It worked against Ramaphosa’s side for the deputy president post, now held by Paul Mashatile rather than the preferred candidate, Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane, and on the first deputy secretary-general post that went to Nomvula Mokonyane by a narrow 50-vote margin.

The margins were also slim for the post of national chairperson, which incumbent Gwede Mantashe held on to by 44 votes, against Limpopo Premier Stanley Mathabatha, with 280 going to David Masondo, the deputy finance minister and second deputy secretary of the South African Communist Party (SACP), who was also on the Ramaphosa slate. 

President Cyril Ramaphosa and newly appointed deputy president Paul Mashatile during a walk-about around stalls within the Nasrec precinct at the ANC’s 55th national conference at Nasrec in Johannesburg, South Africa, on 20 December 2022. (Photo: Leila Dougan)

Questions would be raised about the Ramaphosa slate’s tactics, and the delays in releasing its preferred names for additional National Executive Committee (NEC) posts only on Tuesday morning. The votes for the 80 NEC members ran past the presidential adjournment speech — at that time around 3,000 or some 70% of delegates had voted — and would be released after the conference was adjourned. 

That the margins were this tight indicates the fluidness of factional dominance and that Ramaphosa cannot ease his guard despite a sweep of five of seven top officials’ posts.

But supporters have argued the elective conference outcome boosted the President, who can now act against critics, and those deemed ineffective in government. A Cabinet reshuffle is loading, possibly as early as January. 

And although the ANC conference discussed severing ties with its alliance partners, the SACP and labour federation Cosatu, both indicated approval of the ANC deliberations and leadership elections. 

A reconfigured alliance was crucial to the renewal of the ANC, according to an SACP statement, while Cosatu president Zingiswa Losi said workers could not afford a divided ANC or an ANC leadership compromised by corruption. 

“The [elective] results provide a chance to renew the ANC, rebuild the state, grow the economy, slash unemployment and provide relief and protection for workers.” 

It’s a tall order. But the unprecedented kicking for touch of the policy side of this 2022 Nasrec ANC conference which really only fully dealt with the leadership contest, has created some breathing space. For now. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Rg Bolleurs says:

    How is corruption busting possible when all of the the top 7 are heavily implicated?

    Throw in a corrupt nec and wait for nothing to happen. Not one person sits in jail for state capture, not one

  • Joe Soap says:

    “The [elective] results provide a chance to renew the ANC, rebuild the state, grow the economy, slash unemployment and provide relief and protection for workers.” – 15 years and load shedding is still getting worse. Does this bunch of crocks think anybody will believe their long list of promises? They cannot even arrange for refuse to be collected regularly, and they expect us to believe they can fix all the problems they created.

  • Alley Cat says:

    So?? Normal ops continue? BLAH BLAH BLAH and more BLAH! No policy statements? But then they are a waste of words anyway. Does anyone really believe that they will renew, fight corruption? NOT ME!

  • Geoff Krige says:

    We have been through all of this before. Ramaphoria came and went. Corrupt leaders come and stay. There is still far more concern about destroying the ANC than about destroying the country. There just two things I don’t understand – why anybody keeps voting ANC and why the markets seem to think this conference outcome was positive

    • Ed Rybicki says:

      I think there’s a sense of “Cheer up – it could have been worse!” And it could have: imagine a RET-dominated ANC, with ALL of the heavily implicated in positions of power. Take the win, weak as it is.

  • Robert Morgan says:

    What a sizable amount of horse pucky that sounds like. Ramaposeur really does take us all for a bunch of mugs, that’s for sure. No choice? Ha ha! There should never’ve been a choice in the first place had any of these miscreants observed and respected their oaths of office. Immediate defenestration is the only cure for this abomination.

    • Greg de Bruyn says:

      Thing is, he wasn’t talking to US. He was preaching to his unruly and vociferous choir, who apparently think they’re doing an ok job already. From their perspective, they probably are: plenty of political jobs on offer, easy back-door tenders, corruption blindness, etc. What more could an ANC branch delegate wish for?

      • John Counihan says:

        Exactly! Let us not be fooled that they lie awake at night thinking about their failures in service delivery, their corrupt character etc. Rather, they dream about more looting, new opportunities for rent seeking. Of course they don’t think they are failures. They have succeeded way beyond their wildest, evil dreams. And while we all sit glued to our TV screens and DM reports watching the Elective Conference circus, they posture and bounce around, with idiots like Mabe prattling on about “structures, policies, procedures” etc. Front-of-mind really is just maneuvering themselves into positions of power to take advantage in terms of future corruption opportunities. And CR wrings his hands over the need to curb corruption?! Well, “Nike!” (Just Do It!) Mr President! Don’t talk, do! Make Zondo happen! Currently nobody backs off in terms of corruption, because there are NO consequences. And the guilty flaunt their ill-gotten gains with impunity. So much for “lifestyle audits”. Come to the carpark opposite Woolworths in Broadacres (shopping precinct-of-choice of the Steyn City, Dainfurn etc mafias), and you’ll see streams of Bentleys, Porches, Range Rovers – even the odd RR. There is not a chance in hell that most of them are bought with honest money. And speaking of hell, I love Advocate Professor Thuli Madonsella’s warning that “there is a special place in hell for those who steal from the poor”. Shame on you, ANC! Shame on you indeed!

  • Theo Voss-Price says:

    So, more political space for Ramaphosa to manoeuvre, let’s see if he has the balls to fix the broken things and leave the working parts alone. Some serious WORK on fixing the electricity problem would be number one, of course. It’s not a very fungible product, so best he opens up the ‘taps’ to producing it quickly! And the business sector is obviously the answer to that.
    (By the way, though one gets the gist, this was not a very well written article from a journalist who who usually delivers betters. Perhaps end of conference exhaustion is to blame?)

  • John Ingram says:

    Appoint Cyril as King of the ANC Monarchy and delegate the running of the country to proper trained persons who can accept levels of responsibility and dont play political games and try to loot wherever possible. Just some sort of normal approach to running a country would be a blessing.

  • Derek Jones says:

    We have to kick them out of office. Nothing will change. Ramaphosa is a just biding time giving the ANC some credibility so they can steal more and drive us deeper into debt. No one in his position should be running a business on the side. He is not doing his job anyway. He lied when he promised to deliver for south Africa, his oath was and is worthless. He has not kept his promise to put SA first. He is a party man and admitted it. He is a money grabbing politician. A poor excuse for a president.
    Didn’t ever earn the money he was given from the mining sector either. Kick them all out is the only way. SA lookout for yourselves and get these thieving failures out of office.

  • Grant Turnbull says:

    Its time the ANC begin to reflect on the makeup of their NEC. They expect business and sport to be racially represented or face heavy penalties. The makeup of their NEC is extremely onesided and looks like the Nat Party during the apartheid years – very onesided.
    No sign of the dream of a rainbow nation.

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted

We would like our readers to start paying for Daily Maverick...

…but we are not going to force you to. Over 10 million users come to us each month for the news. We have not put it behind a paywall because the truth should not be a luxury.

Instead we ask our readers who can afford to contribute, even a small amount each month, to do so.

If you appreciate it and want to see us keep going then please consider contributing whatever you can.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options

Daily Maverick Elections Toolbox

Download the Daily Maverick Elections Toolbox.

+ Your election day questions answered
+ What's different this election
+ Test yourself! Take the quiz