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55TH NATIONAL CONFERENCE, PART TWO

ANC constitutional changes not passed after ‘tired’ delegates abandon all-night meeting

ANC constitutional changes not passed after ‘tired’ delegates abandon all-night meeting
Delegates at the ANC's 55th national conference at Nasrec in Johannesburg, South Africa on 19 December 2022. At the reconvened conference, which took place through the day and night of January 5, 2023 in a hybrid format, delegates battled to stay awake, leaving the conference without a quorum for voting. (Photo: Leila Dougan)

'No train smash,' says newly elected secretary-general Fikile Mbalula after the party was unable to pass the bulk of their constitutional amendments at the reconvened national conference in a hybrid format. 

In the first leg of the ANC national conference, held between 16 and 20 December at Nasrec, the party had more than 4,000 delegates present. However, attendance during the hybrid dwindled over time. 

Delegates told Daily Maverick that they were unable to reach a two-thirds majority quorum, with only around 2,100 delegates showing up to participate in voting for constitutional amendments. At least 2,900 delegates were required to allow for any changes to be made to the party’s constitution. 

When the continuation of the conference commenced in a hybrid format on Thursday, the party’s secretary-general Fikile Mbalula said that the roll call had been attended by over 3,000 delegates. 

Sources explained that the numbers dropped significantly because the conference went on until late into the night and many delegates were tired and opted to go home by the time they had to pass the amendments. 

The party initially said the second leg of the conference would be spread out over 5 and 6 January. However, there was a push to conclude proceedings as soon as possible, so the party president Cyril Ramaphosa could have a clear  mandate from the conference in time for the party’s 111th anniversary celebrations. 

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This meant that the contentious one member one vote policy, which seeks to introduce an internal electoral system through which ANC members can directly vote for leadership at regional, provincial and national levels, could not be passed. 

This adjustment would erode the current system which favours consensus and voting in blocs. 

However, Mbalula said their inability to amend the constitution is  “no train smash”.

“It does not change anything, it is just that those who wanted to amend it could not get two-thirds in plenary. So there is no issue about that, it is simply the procedure of the ANC,” according to the party’s secretary-general.  

He was speaking during a briefing on Friday at Ilanga Estate in Bloemfontein. 

Only two amendments concerning the constitution of the party officials have been passed by the party’s 55th conference. 

The first is the introduction of the seventh party official, who will be elected as the second deputy secretary-general of the party. This paved the way for Maropene Ramokgopa to be elected as the first-ever ANC second deputy secretary-general in December 2022. 

“The deputy secretary general position stands because it was adopted by two thirds at the first leg [of the conference],” Mbalula said.

The other amendment which was passed states that the treasurer general will no longer be a full-time position. This allows the newly elected treasurer of the ANC, Gwen Ramokgopa, the chance to be deployed to other government positions.

Vendors selling ANC regalia near the Dr. Petrus Molemela Stadium ahead of the ANC January 8 Statement. Photo: Felix Dlangamandla/Daily Maverick

The party has completed its commissions and passed resolutions which will be used to shape them as well as the country. Commission rapporteurs have given the media feedback in the early hours of Friday 6 and on Saturday 7 January.

The newly constituted NEC convened on Friday night for the first time, ahead of the ANC birthday celebration that is taking place on Sunday. DM

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Fritz Jesch says:

    There is almost no intellect in the ranks of the party. The results of the conference talks for itself.

  • Heinrich Holt says:

    Frikkie, as the Minister of Transport, you should very well know that there are no trains left that can smash. You smashed them all already. It is evident that ANC is too tired to properly run government and the country too.

  • Tony Reilly says:

    “……many delegates were tired and opted to go home……” ? 😂
    How not to get resolutions passed. Useless.

  • Jane Crankshaw says:

    Just like a kids birthday party …eat all the sweets and then go home! Pathetic organisation!

  • Katharine Ambrose says:

    Surely the ANC treasurer is a job requiring the incumbents full attention? Their finances are in such disarray they can’t pay staff. Or is it just that there’s no money to deploy so it’s not worth bothering with?

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