What lies behind the ANC scrapping the two deputies proposal

Delegates did not want to elevate individuals instead of strengthening the organisation – which is why they voted against a proposal to create two ANC deputy president positions, said the ANC’s Northern Cape chairperson Zamani Saul.

The conference decided that the party’s national leadership structure should remain the same, following a debate on proposed constitutional amendments on Sunday.

“The argument was that the current structure is correct. The issue is not about the structure, but the personalities, people who get selected into those positions. The argument was you need to expand the position to strengthen the management of the ANC. The counter argument was that it is not necessary and we should find other ways of strengthening the organisation,” Saul told the Mail & Guardian.

Three independent sources confirmed that the amendments were rejected, and that the conference decided to keep the national executive committee at 80 members.

The proposal to include two deputies in the presidency was meant to accommodate opposing slates in the succession race, while another proposal to create two deputy secretary general positions was meant to improve oversight and election planning at the ANC’s Luthuli House headquarters.

Nearly 5000 ANC members have gathered in Nasrec for the party’s 54th conference, where it will elect new leaders and attempt to heal divisions in its top structures and among the rank and file.

The proposal to create two deputy party president positions came from President Jacob Zuma at the ANC policy conference earlier this year. The president argued that the extra portfolio was needed to accommodate the loser of the presidential election contest.

But he faced resistance from senior ANC leaders such as Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, who said the proposal was not adequately discussed among branches.

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Govan Whittles

Govan Whittles is a general news and political multimedia journalist at the Mail & Guardian. Born in King William's Town in the Eastern Cape, he cut his teeth as a radio journalist at Primedia Broadcasting. He produced two documentaries and one short film for the Walter Sisulu University, and enjoys writing about grassroots issues, national politics, identity, heritage and hip-hop culture.

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