ANC accepts revised 'second transition' document

The ANC has accepted an altered version of the "second transition" policy document - but it has nothing to do with Mangaung, says the ruling party. (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)

The ANC has accepted an altered version of the "second transition" policy document - but it has nothing to do with Mangaung, says the ruling party. (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)

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The ANC on Thursday accepted a watered down version of the "second transition" document at its policy conference in Midrand.

"All commissions have accepted the contents and the thrust of the document as you know it," ANC policy head Jeff Radebe told journalists.

Radebe would not elaborate on the exact changes made to the original strategy and tactics document except to say the essence of the document remained the same.

"It is no longer called the 'second transition' but rather the 'second phase of the transition'. There was broad agreement that we are in a transition from apartheid colonialism and the second phase of transition must be characterised by more radical policies and a renewal of the ANC and its alliance partners," he said.

National Executive Committee (NEC) member Febe Potgieter-Qobile said delegates came to a consensus on the need for immediate radical change.

"We realise that if things do not change soon, we will not be able to build a South Africa for all. This is why we approach this strategy," she said.

The contentious policy document has been the subject of intense speculation that it forms part of President Jacob Zuma's push for a second term as ANC president.

Power dynamics
Radebe was quick to point out the adoption of the document in an altered form did not indicate any shift in power dynamics within the party as it headed towards its elective conference in Mangaung.

"Let me just deal with this elephant in the room: There are no Jacob Zuma or Kgalema Motlanthe supporters – there are simply ANC supporters," he said.

This was echoed by Tony Yengeni, the man who helped author the document with Potgieter-Qobile.

"This has nothing to do with leadership.
It is a political discussion, anybody saying otherwise is extremely mischievous. It is extremely mischievous for anyone to equate the second transition document with the second term for president," he said.

This was in stark contrast to events outside the conference where a stand-off ensued between supporters aligned to both Zuma and Motlanthe.

Face-off
Although nuanced, the opposing factions sang songs and gestured at one another at the close of sectoral policy commissions.

Matters came to a head during Motlanthe's walk through the conference's progressive business forum.

While at the Africa Rainbow Minerals stall, Motlanthe was met by a group of pro-Zuma members.

Marching past the deputy president, the roughly 50-strong crowd sang "uZuma yo siVuma iSecond-Transition" (Zuma will take us to the second transition).

While initially bemused by the spectacle, Motlanthe was quickly escorted to the VIP area.

Succession debate
Once the group moved to the back of the hall, Motlanthe exited and was welcomed by a small group of his own supporters outside the venue.

He passed them as they sang "Siyaya noKgalema" (We are going with Kgalema).

As Motlanthe moved towards the dining hall, Zuma supporters exited the commissions venue and intercepted the Motlanthe faction.

Both sang opposing songs and gestured at one another.

Zuma supporters thrust their hands in the air with two fingers raised – signifying their call for a second term for the incumbent.

The Motlanthe group met their gestures with arms raised, rolling their hands – a sign indicating their call for a substitution in leadership.

Downplaying the issue
Both factions were dominated by delegates from different provinces and representatives from all of the ruling party's leagues.

The stand-off could be interpreted as the first crack in the ANC's attempt to silence the succession debate.

ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe ruled out any discussions on the matter until October but the incident is reminiscent of events leading up to the 2007 Polokwane elective conference when Zuma took power.

The ANC downplayed the issue.

"We will not comment as most events have had ... songs. A comment would indicate a cynicism in rival politics. People are trying to air whatever views they have through songs and that is an age old tradition," ANC spokesperson Keith Khoza said.

Nickolaus Bauer

Nickolaus Bauer

Nickolaus Bauer is the Mail & Guardian's jack of all trades news reporter that chases down stories ranging from politics and sports to big business and social justice. Armed with an iPad, SLR camera, camcorder and dictaphone, he aims to fight ignorance and pessimism through written words, photographs and videos. He believes South Africa could be the greatest country in the world if only her citizens would give her a chance to flourish instead of dwell on the negativity. When he's not begging his sub-editors for an extra twenty minutes after deadline, he's also known to dabble in the occasional poignant column that will leave you mulling around in the depths of your psyche. The quintessential workaholic, you can also catch him doing sports on the weekday breakfast show on SAfm and presenting the SAfm Sports Special over the weekend. Read more from Nickolaus Bauer

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