The ANC policy conference released a raft of recommendations late on Thursday. Some are surprising, some new. Others are downright unimplementable.
It took the ANC much of Thursday night to work through the recommendations that had come from its various policy commissions in Midrand this week, and it was midnight by the time it had reported back on the last of the day's work.
That saw an avalanche of information released over the course of a few hours – with much of interest buried in the final pile.
But even before analysts pore over the resulting documents and consider their implications on the party and the country, a couple of decisions already stand out.
The part of the conference considering organisational structure saw unresolved disagreements on various issues, which means those will now have to be decided by the Mangaung elective conference in December. But it did reach one important conclusion: While cadre deployment should be maintained, the nature of those cadres has to change. The party has promised to deal more harshly and swiftly with those who bring it into disrepute through, say, corruption, and to do more to train those it deploys.
It also resolved that:
- The national executive council (NEC) should be reduced from 80 to 60 members, the size it was before the Polokwane conference that saw Jacob Zuma take control of the party.
- New members will have to undergo six months of political education and do community service before their applications will be considered;
- Veterans should be used in its political schools;
- Party leaders should be continiously monitored and evaluated on their party performance;
- To assume party leadership roles, minimum membership periods should be required; 10 years for NEC positions, 7 years for provincial leadership, 5 years for regional leaders and two and a half years for branch leadership;
- The ANC should push for regulations on the funding of political parties; and
- Members should donate money to the party, to make it less reliant on other sources of income.
On social transformation, the party recommended that certain cultural practices should be examined for human rights abuses and possible criminalisation. Chief among these is ukuthwalwa, the practice of kidnapping brides. The party also wants to implement two years of "compulsory" national service for young people – but says it will not contemplate conscription.
Other resolutions include that:
- Sporting quotas should be maintained;
- Water trading should be abolished, and unused water allocations seized; and
- A job seeker's grant, should be considered, one paid neither to employers (as the proposed youth wage subsidy would be) nor paid to the job seekers, but which will in some undefined way help enhance the skills of the young and unemployed.
On communication, the ANC said it was very happy with the recommendations of the Press Freedom Commission, and would recommend that its parliamentarians closely consider its proposals when looking into media regulations. The conference also said the party should reach out to young people using social media.
Delegates also resolved that:
- the SABC should carry more local films;
- Frequency spectrum freed up by the migration of terrestrial television broadcasts from analogue to terrestrial should be used to create regional television stations and local radio stations;
- The set-top boxes that will convert those digital signals for older analogue television sets should be email enabled;
- The Post Office should expand its services, and deliver mail to every South African.
On international relations, the conference recommitted the ANC to being a peacekeeper on the African continent, as well as a major player when it comes to international organisations and their transformation. The conference called for:
- greater and faster intervention in Swaziland, with demands for the unbanning of political parties and the release of prisoners held without trial;
- continuing friendship between the ANC and Zimbabwe's Zanu-PF, but fairness from the government when it mediates between that country's political parties;
- an end to hostilities in Syria;
- the International Criminal Court to expand its prosecutions beyond Africa.
All the proposals must be ratified by the Mangaung elective conference before the become party policy.