Delivering his political overview at the ANC’s national executive committee meeting in Cape Town this weekend, Zuma said: “It is a reminder that building the organisation remains a critical task that requires our undivided attention,” he said.
“The fact that we are having so many conferences in one year, some of which are not in line with the ordinary schedule, partly points to weaknesses and challenges in our movement that we must decisively deal with,” he said in speech prepared for delivery.
The ANC women’s league is scheduled to hold its conference next month, the veterans league would go to conference in May and the Youth League in June. Zuma noted that the ANC is due to holds its National General Council while the SACP and Cosatu are due to hold their conferences.
“It is important to note that some of these conferences are taking place this year outside of the normal schedule. The reason is either because of the need to respond to urgent matters which have arisen or to correct certain things which may have gone wrong,” Zuma said.
Zuma urged the 80 member NEC to desist from excessive intervention and interference in the affairs of the leagues. “We must see the conferences of the leagues as natural opportunities of rebirth and renewal; and allow the leagues to function as autonomous bodies within the confines of the ANC’s organisational discipline,” he said.
Zuma’s vision for the youth league is a league “which does not have any objectives that are contrary to those of the ANC”. He wants the women’s league to relentlessly pursue the struggle for women’s emancipation from the shackles of patriarchy, and with clear programmes to advance the status and quality of life of women in the country, especially the poor and the working class in both urban and rural areas.
“It is therefore our responsibility as ANC leaders to ensure that all our structures and leagues function properly in line with the provisions of our constitution.” The Mail & Guardian reported this week that Zuma leads a battered organisation, with all three ANC leagues struggling to run their programmes.
The youth league, which used to regard itself as a kingmaker, is dormant. Since the dismantling of all youth structures, a task team appointed to revive the league has failed to convene an elective conference.
The women in green have also not met to elect their leaders. The women’s league has postponed its conferences several times. The body that represents the aged members of the party, those over 60 and with four decades of uninterrupted membership, is also in a mess.
The veterans’ league cannot verify who has been a member long enough and who is old enough to qualify. Its president, Sandi Sejake, has also admitted that the organisation is broke and in disarray.
The national general council can be convened without the leagues because most delegates come from branches spread throughout the provinces, but many of these are not in good shape either.