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2007 ANC National Policy Conference: Report of the Commission on Organisational Renewal

30 June 2007, Gallagher Estate


Introduction

  1. From the debates in the commissions, it is clear that we all regard Organisation as a critically important area of discussion. The amount of time spent by different commissions on this matter and the extent to which proposals were debated and scrunitised is testimony to the importance we attach to this matter.
  2. There is general agreement that the discussions on Organisational Renewal should flow from the conclusions arrived at on the Strategy & Tactics of the ANC. This will enable the movement to examine and deal with organisational questions in response to the main tasks and challenges outlined in the Strategy & Tactics. Discussing and reporting on S & T and Organisation at the same time create greater possibility that organisational challenges of a short term nature can be conflated or elevated into matters of strategy and principle. At the 52nd National Conference, there is a need to debate and adopt a resolution on S & T before discussing the challenges of Organisational Renewal. We will illustrate this difficulty later in the section on the Primary Mission and Unique Features of the ANC.
  3. The Consolidated Report on the Submissions of Provinces and the Leagues served as a basis for discussions in the Commissions. In general, the Commissions supported most of the specific proposals in the Report and such proposals will not be repeated in this Report to plenary but they will be encapsulated in the final report of the National Policy Conference. The Report will therefore focus on new or alternative proposals and give some flavour of the debate on various issues.

THE PRIMARY MISSION AND UNIQUE FEATURES OF THE ANC

  1. There is unanimity about the ongoing relevance of the ANC's primary mission and its unique features. Further, there is general agreement that this is a very important section to provide a context and an anchor for the ongoing debate on building organisation and the specific challenges of Organisational Renewal. The main conclusions of Chapter One of the Organisational Renewal document should be integrated into and synchronised with Chapter Six of the Draft S & T Document. In particular, it is proposed that when stating the pillars of the current phase of the NDR, we should re-affirm the position that the ANC is both a national liberation movement and a ruling party. In this regard, mass mobilisation and organisational work should be stated as the primary pillar, followed by the state, the economy, ideological struggle and the international pillar. This relates to the point raised in 1.2 above about the sequencing of the discussions on S&T and Organisational Renewal.

STRUCTURES

MEMBERSHIP

  1. There is general agreement on the proposals contained in the Consolidated Report on Submissions from Provinces and the Leagues on this matter.
  2. Alternative proposals and issues that need further debate in the next five months:
    • Joining on the internet: while there is general agreement that members can renew their membership on the internet, there are different views on whether joining on the internet should be allowed. The main principle is that every person who joins the ANC should do so at branch level and participate actively in the political life of the branch. It should be made easier for people who are genuinely interested in the movement to join, while ensuring that this is done in a way that does not undermine this important principle.
    • Lowering the age for membership: there are substantially different views on this matter. There is agreement on the principle that the movement should actively target young people in its political and ideological work and that the ANCYL is the primary vehicle to do this. However, further debate is necessary.
    • Exemption from the 8 weeks probation: Commissions generally disagreed with this proposal and argued for the status quo.
    • Termination of membership due to failure to renew after 3 months: This is generally agreed to. However, emphasis was placed on the need to remind the affected member about the expiry date of the membership before termination. There is also a common concern that this proposal should not punish members who have genuine financial difficulties with meeting the 3 months grace period.

BRANCHES

  1. Most proposals were agreed. Further, there is now general agreement on the need to increase the term of the BEC to 2 years.
  2. However, the following issues need further debate:
    • Introduction of a mid-term BGC: There was a concern that we should not introduce new structures in the branch without clearly defining their role. The role and composition of the Branch General Council vs. Branch General Meeting should be debated and agreed before finalizing this matter.
    • Naming of Branches: Although there is general agreement that branches should be named after the deceased cadres/leaders who had an outstanding track record and unbroken service, there is a persuasive argument that living veterans who have been honoured by the movement for their loyalty and unbroken service should be considered. The NEC should develop guidelines for this process.

SUB-REGIONS AND ZONES

  1. There is general agreement that sub-regions and zones have played a useful role in coordinating the work of branches. In addition, the following proposals were made:
    • There is further agreement that sub-regions should only be established in regions where there are type B (local) municipalities.
    • Zones are particularly relevant coordinating structures in Metropolitan Regions and they should be strengthened and aligned closely with PCOs.
  2. The following issue needs further debate:
    • Role of the sub-region: The political role of the sub-region with regard to giving leadership and guidance to councilors in a local municipality is agreed. Whether the sub-region should be given specific constitutional powers or be delegated responsibility by the REC is a matter that needs further debate. The common concern is that we should avoid a situation in which the REC and the Sub-Regional leadership contest over giving leadership to B-type municipalities.

REGIONS

  1. There is general agreement on most of the proposals on Regions. Further, there is also now general agreement on the need to increase the term of office to 3 years. There was a particular support for the strengthening of Regional Offices, including on the need to ensure Regional Secretaries become full-time.

PROVINCES

  1. There is general agreement on most proposals on Provinces, including on the extension of the term of office of the PEC to four years. There was strong support on the need to strengthen Provincial Offices, including on the need to retain the provision that Provincial Secretaries should be full-time.

NATIONAL STRUCTURES

  1. There is general agreement on the following issues:
    • There is agreement that National Conference should set broad targets and policy priorities for the next 5 years, without too much detail that can be dealt with by the NEC on an annual basis.
    • HQ: There is further agreement on the need to strengthen the SGO in accordance with the organisational management responsibilities of this Office, while retaining the role of the Office of the ANC Presidency as the political head of the organisation.
    • Position of National Chairperson: Retain the position but further review and define the role and responsibilities of this position in relation to building organization.
    • Officials: Retain the status quo.
    • NEC:
      1. Size: there are substantially different views on this matter. Those in favour of the status quo argued that the present size of the NEC should be retained and that attention should be paid to the quality and caliber of leadership needed to lead the ANC. Retaining the current size would allow for more rigorous performance assessment and avoid a culture of leadership entitlement. Expanding the NEC could lead to problems with achieving a quorum. Those in favour of increasing the size of the NEC to between 80 and 90 argued that an enlarged NEC will help the movement to meet its growing responsibilities in the different pillars of struggle. Further debate is required.
      2. Composition: 50/50 gender parity was generally agreed. Commissions were generally receptive to the idea of generational mix but the NEC needs to develop further guidelines on what would be regarded as an appropriate generational mix.
      3. Criteria: There is general agreement that "Through the Eye of the Needle" is adequate but should be applied rigorously and consistently when electing NEC members.

ANC WOMEN'S LEAGUE

  1. There is general agreement on all the proposals.

ANC YOUTH LEAGUE

  1. All proposals were agreed except the lowering of the age and exemption from 8 weeks probation. Generally, commissions also further agreed that the ANC should continue to support the ANCYL financially.

VETERANS

  1. There is now a unanimous agreement on the setting up of the Veterans' League. Further, there is general agreement on the medals as proposed.
  2. Further debate is required on the definition of a veteran:
    • There is general agreement on the proposed definition of a veteran.
    • There is an alternative view that a veteran should only be defined on the basis of the number of years rather than age: 40 years of unbroken and loyal service should suffice.
    • Unbroken service should be defined clearly to accommodate all cadres who worked in all the four pillars of the struggle.

MKMVA

  1. There is general agreement on the proposals. There is further agreement that the ANC needs to support MKMVA structures much strongly that it has been the case so far. SGO should be given responsibility. This should apply at all levels. The proposal on a comprehensive social package for all ex-combatants of former liberation armies is supported by all commissions. The Presidential Commission on Military veterans is more preferred.

OVER-ARCHING ISSUES

POLITICAL EDUCATION

  1. There is unanimous agreement on the proposals on political education. It is further agreed that many of these proposals were discussed and agreed to in previous Conferences with little implementation. For this reason, there is general impatience with lack of implementation.
  2. The additional issue is the need to incorporate the rights of people with disability in the curriculum.

POLICY FORMULATION, EVALUATION AND MONITORING

  1. There is general agreement with the proposals. There is an emphasis on the need for the ANC to give leadership to society and the state. Giving space to cadres deployed to government is correct as long as innovation and initiative is exercised within the mandate and policy framework of the organisation.

POLITICAL MANAGEMENT

  1. There is general agreement with the proposals.

ELECTION OF ANC LEADERSHIP

  1. There is general agreement on the following issues:
    • Re-affirm the relevance of "Through the Eye of the Needle".
    • Re-affirm the current procedures of electing ANC leadership as outlined in the ANC Constitution (Rule 12, 17, 21 and 23 on electing NEC, PEC, REC and BEC).
    • Amend Rule 6.1 to make 50/50 gender parity a constitutional clause.
    • There is no need to synchronise the term of office of the ANC leadership with that of government and the current electoral procedures of the ANC are adequate. The status quo retained.
    • Attendance of political school should be a requirement for election once the school has been established.

DEPLOYMENT OF CANDIDATES FOR LEADERSHIP IN GOVERNMENT

Local Government/Mayorship

  1. All commissions agreed that the REC should make recommendations on a pool of names of cadres who should be considered for Mayorship. The PEC will make the final decision on the matter based on the pool of names submitted by the REC. Those members of either the REC or PEC who are being considered for deployment should recuse themselves when decisions affecting them are made.

Provincial Government/Premiership

  1. All commissions agreed that the PEC should make recommendations on a pool of names of cadres who should be considered for Premiership. The NEC will take a final decision based on the pool of names submitted by the PEC. Those members of the PEC who are being considered for deployment should recuse themselves when decisions affecting them are made.

National Government/Presidency of the Republic

  1. All commissions discussed the three options as contained in the Consolidated Report on Submissions of Provinces and the Leagues. There were robust and lively debates on all these options. In some commissions such debates led comrades to try and identify the principles that should underpin a conclusion on this matter. We shall come back to these principles later.
  2. Judging from the reports from various commissions, there is general agreement that the ANC President should preferably be the ANC candidate for the President of the Republic. There was also a strong view that this must not be made a principle.
  3. In taking forward this matter, there is general agreement that we should be guided by the following principles:
    • In accordance with Rule 5.1 (d), the right of any member to elect or be elected in the structures of the movement should be upheld. This means that it is only in the National Conference of the ANC that members can elect or be elected.
    • The ANC remains the key strategic centre of power that should exercise collective leadership over the state and society in pursuit of the objectives of the NDR. This means that the decisions on the direction that our country should take should always be made collectively by the structures and collectives of the movement.
    • The term of office of all ANC leaders should remain as stipulated in Rule 12.3 of the Constitution. This means that there is no need for a term limit on the leadership of the ANC since they are elected for one term at a time.
    • The current procedures for electing ANC leadership are adequate and therefore the status quo should remain. Whatever is finally decided by the 52nd National Conference on the matter of how the movement should select its candidate for the Presidency of the Republic, it is generally agreed that with regard to electing the leadership of the movement, there is no need to change the current procedures and provisions of the ANC Constitution.

FUNDING

  1. There is unanimity on the proposals. Further, there is a need for the NEC to develop guidelines and policy on fundraising, financial management and accountability for all the structures. There is also a need for the NEC to develop guidelines on investment vehicle(s) and this will operate and account to the leadership of the movement.

DISCIPLINE

  1. All commissions re-affirmed the centrality of political discipline as an important principle on which cadres and members of the ANC as a revolutionary movement. Discipline among members should be enforced through a combination of political education and ideological training together with firm action against those whose conduct undermines the values, principles and decisions of the movement.
  2. The NEC should develop further guidelines to ensure that ANC disciplinary procedures are clear. ANC members should exhaust internal processes before they can approach the courts on organisational matters. Further, the guidelines should clarify how the ANC deals with cases brought to its structures when they are still subject to legal proceedings. We also need to ensure that we avoid cases of a political nature by establishing clear procedures and managing proper and timely responses from higher structures that receive complaints for members.
  3. We need to strengthen clauses on misconduct to enable DCs to better deal with incidents. Our procedures should be tight, simple, clear and consistent.

MDM, ALLIANCE AND CIVIL SOCIETY

  1. All the commissions re-affirmed the ongoing relevance of the Tripartite Alliance in the current phase of the NDR.
  2. The commissions acknowledged that the challenges posed by the new conditions, central to which is the ongoing need to enhance organisational capacity of individual components and the collective strength of Tripartite and continue to search for better ways of responding collectively to the new challenges.
  3. The commissions noted the current debates in the SACP (state power) and COSATU (Pact). The ANC respects the right of individual Alliance partners to discuss and arrive at their own decisions on how they seek to pursue their strategic objectives. Consistent with this principle, the ANC will continue to determine, in its own structures and processes, how best to advance its own strategic objectives.
  4. The leadership role of the ANC in the current phase of our struggle and its primary responsibility is to unite all the democratic forces, including the Tripartite Alliance was also re-affirmed.

CONCLUSION

  1. The debates on Organisational Renewal have been heated, robust and very constructive. In respects, the issues are quite involved and complex. The abiding strength of the ANC is that robust debates bring more wisdom to all those who participate in them. Instead of causing divisions, debates help us to clarify our ideas and help us to listen to and learn from one another. Collectively, we have become wiser after listening to one another in the commissions.
  2. Generally, commissions feel that the Organisational Renewal proposals that will emerge from this Policy Conference should receive further priority attention in all the structures, as we enter the final phase towards the 52nd National Conference.