NEWS ANALYSIS: There's change in the heir

04 July 2017 - 16:47 By ranjeni munusamy
President Jacob Zuma. File photo.
President Jacob Zuma. File photo.
Image: AFP

There are ideas at the ANC NPC about how to get new leaders‚ but none about how to get rid of old ones

The ANC’s two biggest provinces‚ KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape‚ have proposed mechanisms to avoid a brutal showdown between factions at the party’s December elective conference.

These deals‚ along with debates on economic policy‚ will indicate which ANC camp holds sway as the party’s national policy conference this week reaches its conclusion.

While the redistribution of land without compensation and other mechanisms for “radical socio-economic transformation” remain areas of battle‚ there will be other key indicators of factional dominance.

The race to succeed President Jacob Zuma looms over the conference‚ which was preceded by jockeying and tensions between factions supporting the two main candidates‚ Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

The KwaZulu-Natal province‚ through its chairperson Sihle Zikalala‚ has publicly proposed a deal in which the loser in the presidential race automatically becomes the deputy president. He says this would help to “dissolve factions”.

The proposal is not formally under discussion‚ but KwaZulu-Natal leaders have been talking it up at commissions and on the sidelines of the conference.

It is also part of the horse-trading with other provinces over policy positions.

It is understood that President Jacob Zuma has also backed the KwaZulu-Natal proposal in one of the closed-door commissions.

But there are some reservations about the proposed deal‚ which is only workable if there are two candidates in the race for the top job.

Already campaigns in support of Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu‚ Speaker of Parliament Baleka Mbete and former ANC treasurer-general Matthews Phosa are in progress.

So for KwaZulu-Natal’s proposal to be feasible‚ other candidates would need to drop out or contest other positions at the December conference.

The Eastern Cape‚ meanwhile‚ has proposed changing the way elections are conducted to allow all ANC members across the country to vote for their leaders.

Provincial secretary Oscar Mabuyane believes opening up the vote to the broad membership of the ANC‚ rather than 5‚000 conference delegates‚ would ultimately kill slate politics and patronage.

While the “one member one vote” proposal is receiving some backing from other provinces‚ it is not a realistic solution to the current succession battle.

A change to the voting system would require amendments to the ANC constitution‚ which only the national conference can approve.

In order for all ANC members to vote‚ there would need to be an extensive auditing and verification process.

A mechanism to allow countrywide voting would also need to be set up. Some delegates are proposing that this be a biometric voting system.

While the election of new ANC leaders is receiving some attention at this week’s policy conference‚ how they are disciplined and removed from office is not a hot topic.

- TimesLIVE