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ANC debate: Documents reveal a party filled with tensions

Sapa

A Wits academic says the ANC policy documents to be debated at its policy conference next month show a party filled with tensions.

ANC supporters wave flags. (Gallo)

“There are a lot of tensions in the documents, there are a lot of issues that are unresolved,” Achille Mbembe told a debate in Johannesburg.

He said after 18 years of “relative complacency and self-congratulory gestures” the ANC was realising South Africa was an ordinary country and not a miracle.

South Africa’s miracle of the 90s “can now be better categorised as a stalemate”, Mbembe said.

Although the policy documents hint at this they did not deal with it.

One of the main tensions in South African politics is that its constitutional democracy did not erase the apartheid landscape.

Ending the stalemate
Mbembe said the current debates on the Constitution, the judiciary and nationalisation, among others, were evidence of an attempt to end the stalemate and usher in what the ANC is terming the second transition.

Mail & Guardian editor-in-chief Nic Dawes also spoke of the tensions within the documents.

He said there was some sense of openness while other areas indicated fear.

Indications of fear in the ANC were evident in calls for more control of the economy, the media and the judiciary as well as various bills like the Protection of State Information Bill.

Dawes gave the example how home affairs was positioned squarely as a “security department”.

“Immigration particularly is framed as a security problem,” he said.

Humane approach
The document then takes a very humane approach to economic migrants, concluding they should be allowed in the country.

Where the main strategy document draws on the work of the National Planning Commission it calls for a more open and competitive economy.

Dawes said this jarred with the ANC’s ambitions to create a developmental state.

The ANC holds a policy conference every five years before an elective conference which will be held in Mangaung in December.

ANC branch members and alliance representatives’ debate policy and any policy changes decided at the policy conference need to be ratified by the elective conference.

The next policy conference will be held in Midrand next month. – Sapa

Click here to see the M&G‘s live blog on the policy document debate.

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