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A good-natured singing contest at the ANC policy indaba on Thursday brought some of the political tensions that were meant to play second fiddle to matters of policy to life.
One group sang in support of President Jacob Zuma, flashing the two-fingered victory sign which has come to symbolise a presidential second term.
The other, using the soccer substitution sign symbolising their wish for leadership change, chorused their desire for new faces at the top.
At one stage support for a second term for Zuma was conflated with the second transition document which Zuma had forcefully endorsed: “Siyavumelana i-second transition (We have agreed to the second transition)” became “Siyavumelana i-second term (We have agreed to a second term)”.
But ANC policy boss Jeff Radebe and Tony Yengeni, the head of the ANC political school, would have none of it when quizzed on these events at a subsequent media briefing.
Both categorically denied any link between the document and the man. “This document has absolutely nothing to do with a second term… It has nothing to do with the election of anyone in any position,” said Yengeni, adding it was “absolutely mischievous” to link the two.
The discussion document, now named “The Second Phase of the Transition”, was adopted within less than an hour, with 10 minor amendments, in a plenary session.
Radebe emerged R100 poorer – he had wagered it would take much longer.
There was little distraction on day three of the ANC policy conference at Gallagher Convention Centre as the over 3 500 delegates focused on wrapping up policy discussions in some 11 commissions and report backs to plenary sessions, so resolutions could be adopted.
Earlier in the day, Zuma went walkabout in the Progressive Business Forum lounge, visiting all the stalls and chatting to everyone, from Absa head Maria Ramos to entrepreneurs who paid top dollar to gain exposure.
Richer by an umbrella in ANC colours and a framed collection of coins, the president left amid a tight phalanx of bodyguards into the lounge networking area.
His deputy, Kgalema Motlanthe, toured the same venue a couple of hours later, close to lunch time when the singing contest brightened proceedings.