Zuma's second transition rejected by ANC commissions

Insiders say the second transition document championed by President Jacob Zuma was rejected, dealing a blow to his re-election campaign. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

Insiders say the second transition document championed by President Jacob Zuma was rejected, dealing a blow to his re-election campaign. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)


The majority of the 11 commissions on the ANC's strategy and tactics policy discussion document on Tuesday rejected the second transition document.

The M&G was reliably told by more than eight ANC delegates – from both the Zuma and Kgalema Motlanthe camps – who attended different commissions on strategy and tactics that the document championed by Zuma as the party's answer to the country's economic and social problems was flatly dismissed. Motlanthe has publicly rejected the idea of the second transition – prompting angry reactions from Zuma and his close allies, including ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe.

The second transition dominated debate during the first and second day of the ANC's policy conference, with Zuma telling delegates during his opening address on Tuesday that the country has completed the first transition – which was mainly about political freedom – and now needed to shift into the second transition, which focuses on economic and social transformation. 

Zuma told journalists on Tuesday he was having "sleepless nights" worrying about people who were still living in squalor 18 years after the dawn of democracy. 

He said the second transition was necessitated by the triple challenges – inequality, poverty and unemployment – facing South Africa. 

ANC insiders told the M&G the second transition was rejected on the basis that it was "theoretically unsound" and too far a departure from the party's 2007 strategy and tactics document that guided the movement on its national democratic revolution. Delegates also complained the language used in the document – which Motlanthe described as Marxist jargon – was incomprehensible to many ordinary delegates and it lacked concrete plans to take forward the vision as punted by Zuma.

In what appeared to be a pre-emptive strike, Zuma on Tuesday sought to distance himself from the second transition document despite the fact that he used it as a campaign ticket during the recent provincial ANC and union conferences.

During commissions at the policy conference, Zuma's home province, Kwazulu-Natal and Mpumalanga tried hard to push for the second transition document to be adopted as policy.

ANC policy head Jeff Radebe said at a press briefing on Wednesday delegates were debating whether to adopt a new "fully-fledged" strategy and tactics document or to make amendments to the existing one.

The conference was expected to resolve on proposed resolutions on Thursday.



Matuma Letsoalo is a senior politics reporter at the Mail & Guardian. He joined the newspaper in 2003, focussing on politics and labour, and collaborated with the M&G's centre for investigations, amaBhungane, from time to time.In 2011, Matuma won the South African Journalist of the Year Award and was also the winner in the investigative journalism category in the same year.In 2004, he won the CNN African Journalist of the Year prize – the MKO Abiola Print Journalism Award. Matuma was also a joint category winner of the Mondi Shanduka SA Story of the year Award in 2008. In 2013, he was a finalist for Wits University's Taco Kuiper Award.
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