President Jacob Zuma has supported the idea of electing an ANC leadership by consensus – proposing that the runner-up in the presidential election should be allowed to occupy the position of deputy.
Zuma’s suggestion was presented on the last day of the ANC’s national policy conference as his solution to ending factionalism and slate politics.
The president said he believed allowing the winner and the runner-up in the presidential race to both occupy a position would ensure that opposing sides were represented in the party’s leadership.
He called for the amendment of the party’s constitution to allow for second deputy, a suggestion that delegates met with hesitation.
“As a practical measure to put an end to the entrenched practice of slate politics and factionalism, branches should consider a proposal to have a second Deputy President so as to include the candidate who obtained the second highest votes in the contest for the position of president,” Zuma said.
Reacting to Zuma’s suggestion some surprised delegates bellowed: “Yoh!” while the president tried to counter their expressions of shock, emphatically telling them: “Yes. Yes.”
He said the 2007 Polokwane elective conference, which resulted in some members breaking away to form the Congress of the People (Cope) was an example of how slate politics destabilised the ANC.
He emphasised the need for unity in the party and the eradication of factions as the first step towards achieving it.
“We can’t be staying with permanent factions and tensions within an organisation that is expected to unite South Africa and take South Africa forward.
It’s a contradiction,” he said.
“We can have denialism about it but it’s a reality that comrades begin to hate other comrades,” he added.
With few changes in position on existing ANC policies, Zuma said the slow pace of implementation was a challenge in the ANC. He called for the establishment of a monitoring and evaluation office that would track the progress made in implementing policies.
“We have taken many resolutions on many key and critical issues but because we have weak capacity to monitor and evaluate their implementation, we have been found wanting,” Zuma said.
“An effective Monitoring and Evaluation Unit located at the Head Office is central to the ANC’s position as the strategic centre of power.
We still do not have such a unit capacitated at a desired level and this has resulted in the inability of the ANC to ensure the full implementation of its programme of action”.
The proposals adopted at the 6-day policy conference will now be presented to branches in order to adopt resolutions at the December elective conference.