/ 16 March 2020

ANC conferences postponed over Covid-19 threat

Anc Conference
The past weekend’s ANC conferences proved a major boost for Ramaphosa presidency of the party

The ANC has postponed its provincial and regional conferences by three months in response to Covid-19.

The party has decided to curtail all its large meetings, including those of branch and regional structures, in line with the ban on meetings with more than 100 people that has been implemented as part of the national disaster declared by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday night.

The decision also affects the midterm national general council meeting at the end of July, which has been postponed until further notice.

A meeting of the ANC’s extended national working committee took the decision on Monday after its meeting in Pretoria. Ramaphosa announced the decision at a media briefing after the meeting. 

A total of 17 regional and three provincial conferences were set to be held in the next two months to elect new leadership ahead of the party’s national general council meeting at the end of July, and ahead of next year’s local government elections. The party’s Youth League and Women’s League elective conferences have also been postponed indefinitely.

The decision is something of a setback to Ramaphosa’s opponents in the ANC, who had been hoping to stage a fightback at the conferences, particularly in provinces in which they had lost ground since the 2017 ANC national conference. That conference, in Nasrec outside Johannesburg, saw Ramaphosa win the leadership of the party from a faction seen to be loyal to former president Jacob Zuma.

The postponement will allow Ramaphosa greater breathing space to consolidate his control over government and the party, while the fight against Covid-19 takes place.

Ramaphosa said the national working committee had agreed to comply with the decision to limit public gatherings of more than 100 people, despite the effect on the conference process. 

He said branch general meetings and regional and provincial conferences had been postponed by three months, as was the term of office of the interim structures running the ANC in the 17 regions and three provinces.

A decision on whether to extend this suspension of the conferences would be taken after some time, he said.

Ramaphosa said branch executive committees should continue with their work to “lead society” and mobilise the public to understand the effects of the Covid-19 virus and the need to change hygiene and social behaviour.

He said the ANC would conduct door-to-door work to educate people about how to fight the virus.

“Leadership of our communities will need to be among our people,” he said.