The ANC wrapped up its national general council (NGC) on Friday with President Jacob Zuma laying down the law on ill-discipline within the party.
“Anyone who crosses the line will face the consequences,” Zuma said to cheers from some 2000 ANC delegates.
“The NGC has agreed that the conduct of any ANC member must never undermine the standing of the ANC in public.”
Zuma said the NGC had instructed the party's leadership to “root out” factional elements in the party, including those in the national executive committee (NEC).
The ANC president burst into his trademark song Awulethu' Mshini Wami after his address, which he had not done for months. He appeared confident as he closed the mid-term policy review conference – this after reports of threats to his presidency of the ruling party ahead of the NGC.
“Members of the ANC should use the art of persuasion to win people over,” he said.
“We must seek to influence and be influenced.”
Zuma said the “manner' in which new ideas were evaluated was important.
“Robust debate must continue, but has to occur within the appropriate structures and forums, so that the necessary decorum can be maintained in the organisation.”
There was no need to “disrupt meetings”.
“That kind of behavior undermines unity and constitutes ill-discipline,” he said to applause from delegates.
It was reported that during the five-day policy review commission discussion on the ANCYL-supported nationalisation of the mines were characterised by heckling, booing and shouting by the, predominantly league, delegates.
This was also a feature at many ANCYL provincial conferences. Zuma described the disruption of meetings and ill-discipline as an “alien tendency” in the ANC.
He urged delegates not to fail the ANC veterans who expressed concern about discipline during a presentation to the NGC.
“We dare not fail the veterans... who have called the organisation to order.”
The veterans, he said, have had a long history flowing through the ranks of the party they knew that to those who were not disciplined “the ANC was history”.
“Once they began to feel they were bigger and cleverer than the ANC, that marked the end,” he warned.
Zuma began the week by giving the ANCYL a dressing down in his opening address.
During the five-day long NGC, the ruling party decided to defer the contentious issue of the Media Appeals Tribunal to Parliament for further investigation.
Parliament would have to look into whether to proceed with the tribunal and on what form it would take.
The matter of nationalizing the country’s mines was also deferred to the ANC’s NEC – who has two years to examine how the state can play a keener role in the economy.
Minister in the Presidency Trevor Manuel said limited resources were available and that the state could not afford to pay out a fortune every time it wanted to take over a mine.
“If you going to do this in every instance the issue of the resource debate must enter somewhere,” Manuel said.
“What the NEC (the ANC's national executive committee) must do in next two years is look at all of these issues and answer the question of what it means.
“If every bit of tax you collect is going to pay out mine owners and not deliver on the NHI (national health insurance) what are the implications of that?”
Trade offs were sometimes necessary in economies, Manuel said.
“You may have to give up on some of things you may want to do. There are trade-offs in economic policy everywhere.”
The two-year probe to be conducted by the NEC would not be limited to the mining sector but include sectors such as banking.
The NGC also agreed upon the setting up of a state-owned mining company and a state-owned bank. It was yet to be determined whether the bank would be a new institution or whether it would take the form of a “re-tooled” Post Bank.
Manuel said the debate on nationalisation had dominated the commission's debate.
He described the discussions on nationalisation as “flavoursome”.
“Like some of the curries in this part of the world, it was hot.
“We emerged with a position. The difficulty is how different this position is to positions already canvassed.
“The key issue is in the paragraph (in the report) of the NGC mandating NEC to do further work on this, to take evidence from all over the world and to give the policy conference in 2012 a sense of what works and what doesn't.”
A special cabinet meeting will be held after the NGC to give attention to country's “new growth path”.
“Cabinet will have to sit down in a special session and deal with this,” Manuel said.
The NGC concluded with “no new economic policy positions”, Zuma told delegates in his closing address. - Sapa