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Delegates to the ANC’s policy conference have endorsed broad plans for radical change over the next two decades aimed at dealing with poverty, unemployment and inequality – but ditched the notion of calling this a “second transition”.
Instead, the policy road map will be known as the “second phase of the transition” and will embrace all the features of the strategy and tactics document adopted by the ANC at its 2007 Polokwane conference.
The “second transition” was linked by some to President Jacob Zuma’s bid for a second term. Senior ANC leaders said on Thursday night that it had taken less than an hour for delegates in a plenary session to reach “broad agreement” on the document’s thrust and insisted delegates were not divided along lines of support either for Zuma or his deputy, Kgalema Motlanthe.
This was despite the first signs of underlying tensions linked to the as-yet undeclared succession battle emerging in a stand-off between KwaZulu-Natal supporters of Zuma and delegates wanting leadership change on Thursday.
Singing Savumelana isecond transition (we all agree on the second transition), a small group of KZN delegates flocked into the Progressive Business Forum’s exhibition hall just as Motlanthe was concluding a walkabout.
They then made their way out of the exhibition hall and towards the plenary hall, still singing and raising the two fingers indicating a second term for Zuma, who has defended the songs being sung at the Gallagher Convention Centre as acceptable because they are about leaders who are “the face” of the party.
But the group’s antics did not go down well with other delegates milling about in the winter sunshine, with some making the roly-poly soccer substitution signal and shouting “Change!”, while others used their hands to make a shower-head gesture, associated with Zuma’s court testimony that he showered to prevent infection after sex with an HIV-positive woman he was acquitted of raping.
Despite this, ANC policy chief Jeff Radebe was adamant when briefing journalists on Thursday evening that there were no opposing groupings – while Tony Yengeni, head of the committee that drafted the “second transition” document, accused those who linked it to a second term for Zuma as “absolutely mischievous”.
“Let me clarify this so that we take the elephant out of this room,” Radebe said.
“There are no Zuma supporters or Kgalema supporters.
“People support the ANC and right now, President Zuma is the president of the ANC – that is why the songs that were even sung there, they sing about the ANC and the president of the ANC.
“The commissions: there are no groupings there – people are coming from the branches with the mandates from their branches and the provinces – that’s precisely what we have seen,” Radebe said, to sceptical muttering from the assembled media pack.
“It is extremely mischievous to associate this discussion document of the ANC with a second term (for Zuma),” Yengeni said.
“This document has absolutely nothing to do with the second term of the president.
“This is a policy document, seeking to analyse the balance of forces in the country and the world and say what direction we should take as the ANC when we are entering the second centenary of our movement.
“What is the strategy perspective going forward? It has nothing to do with election of anyone to any position. It’s a political discussion, determining how do we proceed forward.
“So those people, within and without the ANC, who continue to associate this discussion document with a second term… of the president of the ANC are absolutely mischievous and I think we really need to firmly reject that notion of ‘second term, second transition’,” Yengeni said.
Radebe also flatly rejected reports that the ANC in Gauteng had rejected the notion of a second transition, saying its provincial secretary, David Makhura, had helped draft it.
Co-author and national executive committee member Febe Potgieter-Gqubule explained the difference between a “second transition” and a “second phase in the transition” as a semantic one.
The document is a broad plan only and must first go back to branches for further discussion before coming before delegates for ratification when the ANC convenes at Mangaung.
Only after that will the nuts and bolts of fixing a skewed economy, apartheid patterns of development and massive backlogs in social, human resources and infrastructure be worked out.
Potgieter-Gqubule said there would be broad consultation, extending beyond the structures of the ANC into broader SA society, to persuade people of the need for the kind of change that would alleviate the poverty, unemployment and inequality that was politically and socially unsustainable.