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Contentious ANC conference resumes to conclude 2022’s unfinished business

Contentious ANC conference resumes to conclude 2022’s unfinished business
President Cyril Ramaphosa. (Photo:Felix Dlangamandla / Daily Maverick)

Part two of the ANC’s 55th national conference got shakily underway on Thursday. ANC delegates are meeting partly in person in Mangaung and partly online from their respective provinces to finish discussing and voting on policy resolutions left over from the December 2022 conference.

The ANC gathers en masse each 8 January to celebrate the party’s birthday — but this year, things are playing out a bit differently.

In the days ahead of the birthday party in Mangaung, Free State, ANC branch delegates who attended the December 2022 electoral conference at Nasrec are reconvening in order to conclude the unfinished business.

As a result of delays in the verification and registration of delegates, the Nasrec conference was able only to elect the party’s new Top Seven and its national executive committee (NEC) before the meeting’s scheduled end — which could not be extended due to issues involving the venue booking and expense.

On Thursday and Friday this week, the party’s delegates are gathering once again in a hybrid format, which will see ANC leaders, Free State delegates and some others joining an in-person meeting in Mangaung, while delegates from other provinces participate via online platforms from their home provinces.

Unsurprisingly, the start of the reconvened conference was again plagued with delays and technological difficulties — but by mid-morning on Thursday, events were underway.

This is a proposed draft programme of the day’s activities:

President Ramaphosa: It’s do or die time for ANC

Re-elected ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa opened this second part of the conference by urging delegates to reflect on the significance of the moment.

The decisions taken by the delegates, Ramaphosa said, will determine whether the party is able to turn the tide on its declining electoral and organisational fortunes.

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Ramaphosa reminded delegates of the outcome of the December conference, which he considered a victory for non-factionalism and anti-corruption.

He asked the ANC members to engage deeply and constructively with the discussions ahead and warned them that proceedings would probably stretch throughout the night. ANC secretary general Fikile Mbalula subsequently confirmed as much to the media.

The agenda for the 55th conference, part 2

Over the next two days, delegates will be considering policy proposals and resolutions coming out of various ANC committees, and voting accordingly.

Read from our archives key articles from the policy conference last year here:

FROM OUR ARCHIVES – Inside the ANC policy conference: Read these key articles to understand what it’s all about

Matters expected to take priority involve the future of Eskom and state-owned enterprises, as well as internal aspects related to party organisation.

Not on the menu, Mbalula has already told journalists: discussion of Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala scandal. At least one other disciplinary matter will be considered, however: whether controversial new NEC member Andile Lungisa is able to take up his seat on the party’s top body despite his prior conviction for assault.   

Thanks to an apparent mistake by the SABC, audio from the first discussion item of the day — David Makhura’s report-back on Strategy & Tactics — was streamed to the public for around 10 minutes despite the fact that it was supposed to be a closed session. When the error was realised, the broadcast was cut.

Makhura could be heard telling the delegates that South Africa, as part of the “progressive forces in the world”, must push back on the “conservative right-wing agenda” that is “re-shaping global affairs”.

He acknowledged that the conflict in Ukraine was having “far-reaching consequences”, but did not voice any criticism of Russia.

Makhura said that it was wrong to characterise the war as simply involving “Russia-Ukraine”, as “many countries” had been “drawn into this war”.

It amounts to a “very very significant threat to peace”, Makhura said.

The remainder of the discussions will also be closed to the media, but Mbalula indicated that President Ramaphosa’s closing remarks would likely be broadcast.

“We have nothing to hide,” the new secretary general said. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Paddy Ross says:

    Makhura is correct that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is not just a Ukraine/Russia issue but is a battle between democracy and autocracy. Many democracies recognise this important distinction but unfortunately not South Africa despite a constitution of which the majority of South Africans are proud. The freedom of literally millions around the world depends on Russia’s belief in autocracy being defeated.

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