Johannesburg - The ANC national policy conference became the battleground where deep divisions between supporters of President Jacob Zuma and his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa were laid bare in the run-up to the party’s elective conference in December.
The Star has established, through several sources who attended the two economic transformation commissions, that at times discussions degenerated into fierce wars of words between the two factions.
Last night, the disagreements spilt over to the plenary as the various commissions reported back on discussions about Strategy and Tactics. The discussions centred on what or who could be identified as the “main enemy of the revolution”, said one source.
“Most delegates felt that what was being reported at the plenary was not a true reflection of what transpired and was agreed upon at commissions,” said another delegate.
Zuma’s supporters pushed for white monopoly capital to be singled out as the primary “enemy of the revolution”, while Ramaphosa’s have argued that monopoly capital is global and cannot be defined as white.
The Zuma supporters argued that the term has always been part of the party’s vocabulary and that there was no need to discard it now.
Political analyst Lukhona Mnguni said a disagreement over language had started before the conference and that this was being used by the factions to test their strength.
“Language, therefore, started to define factions. If the conference says there is no white monopoly capital, the perception will be that the faction that has been using white monopoly capital has lost. The perception will be that they do not have enough numbers and vice versa”.
In the end, nine of the 11 commissions decided that “the phenomenon of monopoly capital is a global one”, in what was regarded as a psychological victory for Ramaphosa’s supporters.
ANC policy guru and national executive committee (NEC) member Joel Netshitenzhe said on the matter: “It (monopoly capital) manifests itself differently in various parts of the globe and it would, therefore, not be correct to characterise ours as white monopoly capital.”
In the commissions, the debates over the issue were so heated that some delegates believed matters were headed for a fist fight, in what could be seen as a dress rehearsal for the December conference.
The stakes were so high that one of the commissions was attended by a number of heavyweights, including Zuma, former finance minister Pravin Gordhan, former KZN premier Senzo Mchunu, Ekurhuleni mayor Mzwandile Masina, KZN chairperson Sihle Zikalala, ANC Youth League president Collen Maine and ANCYL KZN secretary Thanduxolo Sabelo.
Disagreements also centred on how best to advance radical transformation, with the pro-Ramaphosa group arguing against what it viewed as reckless proposals that might lead to capital flight.
Some delegates at the conference said pro-Zuma supporters and a “BEE grouping” led by Mzwanele Manyi, a known Gupta supporter, “flooded” the commission, headed by the party’s economics guru, Enoch Godongwana.
Things allegedly got heated in the commission where NEC member and former tourism minister Derek Hanekom was harangued and forced to apologise for contending that “expropriation of land without compensation is nonsense”.
“He (Hanekom) was booed by some elements. The youth league secretary-general (Njabulo Nzuza) threatened to lay a charge of misconduct against him,” a source said.
“Some of us, unionists, communists and lefties, spoke out in quick succession and challenged the dominance of BEE people in the discussion on economic policy, whereas the constituency and voters of the ANC are overwhelmingly poor, unemployed and on social grants,” the source added.
“It was bad, they were wagging fingers at him, it was really bad. Sabelo and Maine led the attacks against Hanekom,” said another delegate.
Zuma’s supporters were said to be also “insisting” that the conference resolve that the judicial inquiry into state capture and corruption “must be cast wider than the Guptas”.
The issue of the concept of white monopoly capital being part of ANC lexicon was sharply criticised this week by ANC Gauteng chairperson Paul Mashatile, who emphasised to The Star that people were distorting the party’s policy by saying opposing white monopoly capital had always been the party’s policy.
This was in response to Carl Niehaus, who wrote in The Sunday Independent that Mashatile, Gauteng Premier David Makhura, Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande and former finance minister Trevor Manuel were sowing confusion by denying that white monopoly capital was an ANC concept. Niehaus is an NEC member of the Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association, an organisation said to be Gupta supporters.