Mantashe accused of undermining delegates on first day of policy conference

The first day of the ANC’s national policy conference got off to a bumpy start on Friday, 29 July when provincial leaders and their delegates demanded that the programme include a review of the national executive committee’s (NEC) performance for the current term. 

The motion resulted in a delay of the adoption of credentials, and was supported by leaders and delegates from KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Eastern Cape, Gauteng, North West, Free State and the ANC Youth League. 

In videos leaked to Mail & Guardian, delegates were heard agitating for ANC national chairperson Gwede Mantashe to allow for acting secretary-general Paul Mashatile to prepare an organisational report to review the NEC’s performance on the implementation of the party’s 2017 policy resolutions. 

While there was a strong push for a report to be compiled on the NEC, Mantashe is alleged to have thwarted the call, accusing the delegates of trying to collapse the conference. 

In one video clip, a Limpopo delegate said that the conference could not review policies when it did not have insight into how far the NEC had worked towards implementing such.  This was alleged to be the result of the ANC not having held its mid-term policy review. 

“That should be very simple logic, national chair,” said the delegate.

“We are of the view as Limpopo that if it means we adjourn and the acting SG (Mashatile)  goes and prepares a report on the state of the organisation and then we go to commissions, let’s do that.”

The ANC Youth League task team spokesperson and KwaZulu-Natal leader, Sizophila Mkhize, supported the call, saying that there must be some sort of accountability for the policies taken in order to avoid calling another conference to discuss the implementation of the same policies. 

“We need to know how far we have gone and the leadership of the ANC entrusted by branches must be able to account. I do not know why you would run away from accountability.” 

Another delegate from the Eastern Cape said the branches had congregated to ensure that the ANC is able to correct its internal issues to allow for change. 

“The leadership must give us a report and account to us.” 

Newly-elected KwaZulu-Natal provincial chairperson, Siboniso Duma, called out Mantashe after he accused the delegates of wanting to cause chaos. 

Duma said the ANC was meeting under abnormal circumstances as it had not reviewed its policy implementations for the past five years. 

“If the comrade chair is going to come here and want to short-circuit the process, we are not going to resolve this matter,” Duma said, adding that Mantashe needed to approach delegates with “superior logic”. 

Mantashe was allegedly also criticised by his Eastern Cape ally, chairperson Oscar Mabuyane, after delegates complained that he was undermining the process by addressing them from his seat instead of standing at a podium, as is tradition. 

Credentials were eventually adopted and delegates were forced to concede that the review of the policy implementation would be addressed during commissions. 

The NEC ended up presenting policy discussion topics on strategy and tactics, the balance of forces, organisational renewal, gender equity and emancipation of women, as well as combating state capture and corruption. 

On the sidelines of a media briefing on her organisational renewal presentation, party leader Febe Potgieter said that part of the discussions would include a skills requirement for those eligible to be MPs, MPLs and cabinet members. 

The ANC piloted this process during the 2021 local government elections, when those bidding for a position in council or as mayors had to be vetted to ensure they had the required skills and qualifications. 

The requirements demanded that councillor candidates must have a tertiary level qualification or equivalent, and at least five years of local government experience. 

Those applying for the position of metro mayors must have leadership experience in a public or private sector organisation with more than 100 employees, with exposure to strategic planning, performance management and labour relations. 

Mayors of smaller municipalities needed to have worked in a leadership position in an organisation with at least 50 employees.

Potential mayors were also required to have a track record of disciplined behaviour, with no evidence of a criminal record or evidence of maladministration. 

In metros, members of the mayoral committee are expected to have a diploma, a good knowledge of local government, including the Municipal Structures Amendment Act, be a leader in good standing, and have at least two years’ experience in the public sector. Members of the mayoral committee charged with finance must have exposure to financial regulations, and budget processes, and have experience in a financial environment. 

In municipalities, the mayor is required to have a minimum of a matric certificate with recognition of prior learning.

Some ANC members raised questions about whether the same requirements would be implemented at higher levels, including cabinet. 

Speaking to M&G, Potgieter said this was part of the ANC’s plan. 

“Part of what we will have to do is look at having a good mix of people. You want to make sure that you have people who understand the areas of policy, whether its energy, international relations etc. 

“At the same time, you also want a mix of people with deep community experience. You want somebody from the LGBTQI community, it may not be a lawyer or an engineer but they represent a sector, or you want somebody that is a community leader that knows how to work with people that can [express] the issues of the community, and that is always what we aspire to.” 

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Lizeka Tandwa
Lizeka Tandwa
Lizeka Tandwa is a political journalist with a keen interest in local government.

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