Elections 2014: ANC list conference delayed again

The ANC is trying to keep itself together ahead of elections. (Paul Botes)

The ANC is trying to keep itself together ahead of elections. (Paul Botes)

The ANC has once again postponed the date for its national candidates' list conference, with internal dynamics putting a brake on finalising who will go to Parliament after this year's election.

With polls suggesting that the ANC might drop to well below 60% for the first time, the party needs all hands on deck for a successful election campaign.

Instead of the list conference taking place after the national executive committee (NEC) meeting in Mpumalanga on January 6 and 7, it will now take place at a date yet to be decided on,

It was already postponed once before, after the death of President Nelson Mandela. This was seen as giving the party the breathing space to try to get its house in order.

Meanwhile, the Mail & Guardian has established that the multimillion-rand upgrades at President Jacob Zuma's private homestead in Nkandla, the controversial e-tolling of Gauteng freeways and resolutions taken by the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa [Numsa] not to campaign for the ANC in this year's elections and its calls for Zuma to step down will top the NEC agenda.

ANC spokesperson Keith Khoza confirmed the party's decision to postpone the national list conference yet again, but dismissed suggestions that this was a delaying tactic to avoid internal ructions.

"I'm sure it's purely logistical," he said. "There are too many things happening at once."

Standard practice
A senior ANC member in the Western Cape said that, due to the factional battles, it had become the norm in that province for a large number of ANC members to stop campaigning for the party if their names did not appear high enough, or at all, on the national or provincial lists.

However, Lindiwe Zulu, an ANC national working committee member and head of the party's subcommittee on communications, said this could not be a reason to postpone the list conference.

"If there are people who are planning to leave because they are not included in the final list, let them go.
We can't keep nursing comrades. If you belong to the ANC, you must belong to the ANC.

"Our programmes can't be shifted because of certain people. We were in a similar situation with Cope [Congress of the People]. What happened? They [ANC members] left to join Cope, but they are now coming back. If there is such a feeling [about people wanting to leave because they are not included on the list], it will be unfortunate," said Zulu.

"If we need to tell people to leave the ANC, we must do so. I am referring to people who attack the ANC publicly and those who keep plotting in corners," she said.

"There have always been issues in the ANC, but the capacity of the leadership in the ANC and intact membership ensured we withstood those challenges. We need to keep our organisation together and alive."

Zulu said Numsa's resolutions would be on the NEC agenda.

Numsa's impact
"Whether we like it or not, it [Numsa resolutions] will have an impact on the ANC. They [Numsa] have taken a decision, but not everybody agrees with those decisions," said Zulu. She said the ANC would try to keep the union within the ANC but warned against those who have agendas to join other political parties.

"We must try to keep them inside. We know there are agendas here. People want to go to government. They are being ambitious. These comrades have joined other forces. That's clear. One thing is for sure – they have joined anti-ANC forces. They are just short of joining opposition parties."

She said the ANC task team, which is led by ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa and was set up to help Cosatu to find solutions to its problems, was expected to table a report to the NEC.

E-tolls were also expected to be on the NEC's agenda. ANC sources have claimed there are some in the party who believe that e-tolls should be rejected and that the government should acknowledge it had erred.

They believe that this is necessary if the ANC is to shore up its support at the polls. Some members say that the arms deal and Gautrain cost a lot more than was originally estimated and the government bore the extra costs and could do the same again with the e-tolls.

While Nkandla was expected to be on the agenda, ANC sources believe what is likely to come out of the NEC meeting is a strategy to defend Zuma.

"People are just pissed off. There is a call for an NGC [national general council] as it was reported in the media, but we doubt it will happen in 2014," said the NEC member.

Matuma Letsoalo

Matuma Letsoalo

Matuma Letsoalo is the political editor of the Mail & Guardian. He joined the newspaper in 2003 and has won numerous awards since then, including the regional award for Vodacom Journalist of the Year in the economics and finance category in 2015, SA Journalist of the Year in 2011, the Mondi Shanduka SA Story of the Year award in 2008 and CNN African Journalist of the Year – MKO Abiola Print Journalism in 2004.
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