By Pinky Khoabane
AMONG the ANC’s proposals to be debated “extensively by the branches” is a power-sharing model that will have the losing presidential candidate becoming the first deputy president and due to the party’s constitutional right of members to choose a deputy president of their own, a second deputy president will be elected.
This, the ANC said would address the factional and slate politics that are eating-away at the party. This may be a good proposal in addressing the problem but it will be only in as far as ensuring that the losing slate is brought into the leadership.
The point is that slates are already in place. Branches have chosen the leadership of various structures and the slates have already been put in place to determine leadership at all other structures. It’s a situation of izandla-ziyagezana, matsoho a hlatsoana – one hand washes another. It’s a complex web that starts right at the bottom. The branch executive committee, comprising of 15, is elected to push a particular candidate or candidates who will later in the electoral process, assist someone in the branch. They are already a slate that will work with other branches to deploy or elect their own people in the zone, region, province and ultimately at national level. It’s a block.
And so as the ANC President Jacob Zuma closed the policy conference by advancing this proposal in order to rid the organisation of slates, the reality is that they are already in place. Much work would have gone into which branches will go with which presidential candidate. In the current situation, although many names are being mentioned, at branch level the two names on the cards are Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa. The candidacy of these two has created such a deep wedge between the members of the ANC that it has often been suggested that other candidates would be better suited to bring unity to the ANC. The ANC can ill-afford another splinter group post national conference. It would simply harm it going into the 2019 elections. It would be catastrophic.
And so in effect, the proposal for power-sharing may bring some level of unity to the organisation.
Members voting directly instead of through branch representation
Another proposal that has been put forth as a means of dealing with the problems of slate politics is establishing a means by which ANC members can vote directly instead of their vote being represented by branch executives moving forward in the electoral process.
The conference mentioned the use of an electronic system whereby members could vote directly. The ANC uses one of the most archaic systems for capturing membership. People must complete a form and walk into a bank to pay the subscription. The form then goes to the branch which then submits the form to the regional offices. It’s often very busy and the regional offices are understaffed and lack resources. It’s a painstaking process which is open to manipulation and human mistakes. Secretaries and deputy secretaries dont always have the time to submit membership by physically visiting the regional offices and one’s submission and membership of the ANC depends on human beings in whose discretion a potential member’s submission relies:
- The Secretary & Deputy Secretary submit the form and it is them who will decide if submissions will meet certain deadlines, which may determine voting rights of the member
- Once submitted, the member has absolutely no control whether their membership will remain in the file or disappear depending on what slate they are on
The point I’m making is that the ANC needs to evolve and ensure there’s limited human involvement in the process of membership. This electronic system it thinks of implementing in the electoral system must start with capturing membership. There has to be a system by which a member can pay for their membership and submit and ensure that they have been captured through that system instead of relying on others to determine if they are worthy of membership based on how they will vote for or against the leadership.