Johannesburg - ANC provincial and regional structures across the country have been barred from consolidating their top six nomination lists ahead of the party’s elective conference in December.
This was announced by ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe on Monday at ANC headquarters – Luthuli House – in what appeared to be a clear directive to avoid the simmering ugly factional battles for top six leadership positions in the ANC.
In the past, ANC provinces had powers to nominate candidates for top six positions and to lobby other provinces to support their slate, as happened at the ANC’s 2012 elective conference in Mangaung.
There, the Gauteng ANC was vocal in its bid to remove incumbent ANC president Jacob Zuma and replace him with Kgalema Motlanthe, but their plot failed.
On Monday, Mantashe said the ANC lekgotla over the weekend – which comprised ANC alliance partners, SACP, Cosatu, Sanco and their women and youth leagues – took a decision to change the nomination process.
Mantashe said ANC branches would have the powers to nominate their own lists and their leadership choice would be sealed in a bag and sent directly to Luthuli House.
“In line with the 2016 ANC national general council resolution that the branch is the basic unit of the ANC, that slates must be outlawed and that serious actions must be taken to prevent and deal with the practice of slates, the ANC national executive committee resolved to do away with the practice of consolidating nominations for leadership at a regional and provincial level."
“All nominations for leadership from branches will be consolidated nationally by the Electoral Commission,” Mantashe said.
The ANC’s about-turn on the nomination process came while certain sectors within it have already announced their leadership choice.
The ANC Women’s League caused a stir within the party after it selected former AU Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma to replace Zuma as ANC president in December.
Cosatu has already expressed its choice for Zuma’s deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa.
But it was the women’s league’s announcement – made before the ANC January 8 statement – which caused a rift in the ANC.
A few days afterwards , Zuma fuelled the fires when he told three SABC radio stations that it was not ANC policy or tradition that an ANC deputy president should automatically replace a president during an elective conference.
Later Ramaphosa, in an apparent fight-back strategy, told one of Joburg’s daily newspapers that ANC rules to choose leaders were likely to be changed at the party’s policy conference in June.
All these shenanigans prompted ANC to strengthen its ban on its members making pronouncements on leadership.
However, that imjunction but that appear to have fallen on deaf ears of party members.
Three more names, those of Minister in the Presidency, Jeff Radebe, former ANC national treasurer, Mathew Phosa, and National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete, were thrown in the mix, blowing the nomination race much wider.
Mantashe has labelled these pronouncements mere speculation, saying “it is just dreams until branches of the ANC have nominated them".
"It is a short-term happiness,” Mantashe added.
He further said: “In line with the constitution of the ANC, 90% of delegates at conference shall be from branches, elected at properly constituted branch general meetings.
“The NEC was resolute that no person who is a member in good standing at the cut-off date of the end of April (this year) for the purposes of auditing, will be denied the right to participate in the life of the organisation.”
Mantashe said ANC membership audits would take place during May and June, while audit queries and complaints would be dealt with in July and August.
He said ANC branches would hold their BGM’s/BAGM’s during September and October to nominate their leadership choices.