National Conferences are occasions when branches and the leadership collective, which includes the Leagues, conduct an introspection and reflect on the organisation’s capacity to deliver on its tasks towards the realization of the national democratic revolution. It is precisely this soul searching that enables the ANC to respond to material conditions in the country. Conference therefore provides an opportunity to review the ANC’s organizational arrangements in order to respond effectively to the challenges at hand.
True to the age-old practice, Conference will consider a number of constitutional amendments aimed at strengthening the ANC well into the second centenary of its existence.
Key among these is the composition and size of the NEC. This is not a new consideration as the NEC has evolved both in form and size over the last 5 decades from an NEC made up of 3 officials and 15 additional members in 1949 to 6 officials and 50 additional members in 1991.
A number of proposals impacting on the composition and size of the NEC will be put before conference for decision. These include an option of a second Deputy President, a consideration to introduce a second and possibly a third Deputy Secretary-General. Consideration will also be given to the configuration of the NWC, with an option of replacing the current structure with the Officials reinforced by 5 full-time, directly elected NEC members to constitute a Working Committee or Secretariat. Alternately, the NWC should be retained in its current form with a proviso that at least 50% of its members should not be members of Cabinet while the ANC remains a governing party.
In strengthening and reinforcing the centrality of the branch as the basic unit of the ANC, conference will also review ways and means to ensure that the branch is able to respond to this responsibility while remaining alive to the realities of modern day society. The proposals under consideration include relaxing the requirement for a branch to meet monthly and rather extend this to once every two months, as well as establishing units outside the country to ensure that ANC members who ordinarily work and reside outside the country are able to participate in the political life of the ANC. The introduction of a support member who may attend branch meetings but will neither have voting rights nor be eligible for election onto any political office, is another proposal borne out of the recognition that the ANC represents the dreams and aspirations of all South Africans beyond its membership. South Africans who may not want to be card carrying members of the ANC, but have an interest in participating in and informing policy debates would be able to do so through their participation at branch level.
In reclaiming its role as the custodian of the dreams and aspirations of all South Africans, the ANC has acknowledged that the challenges it confronts have had an impact on its moral authority. Conference will seriously consider strengthening the role of the Integrity Commission through a variety of proposals which range from reaffirming its independence with decision-making powers and authority to call any member, to a Commission that is accountable to the relevant executive structure with only power to make recommendations. In addition, consideration will be given to the establishment of a National Dispute Resolution Committee as a permanent structure to adjudicate over disputes that arise at any level of the organization, with a provision for an Appeals Committee.
SUMMARY OF CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT PROPOSALS
1. DEPUTY PRESIDENT
Option 1: One Deputy President
Option 2: Two Deputy Presidents
2. DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL
Option 1: Three Deputy Secretaries-General
Option 2: Two Deputy Secretaries-General
3. SIZE OF THE NEC
Option 1: 60 Additional members
Option 2: 80 Additional members
4. NATIONAL WORKING COMMITTEE
Option 1: Retain NWC in its configuration but ensure that at least 50% of its members are not members of Cabinet.
Option 2: Do away with the NWC and make the Officials and 5 full-time directly elected NEC members the Working Committee or Secretariat.
BRANCH GENERAL MEETINGS: Once every 2 months
BRANCH STRUCTURE: Proposals include establishment of sub-branches and ANC units outside the country to cater for South Africans living abroad
DUTIES OF A BRANCH: Duties augmented with new duties which include formation of street committees, collaborative partnerships with civil society, strengthen accountability of ward councilors.
DUTIES: Duties augmented to enable Regions to provide logistical support to branches towards the realization of their mandate with specific reference to programmes aimed at realizing social cohesion, strengthening relationships with alliance partners and organs of civil society at branch level.
7. PROVINCIAL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEES
DUTIES: Duties of the PEC to be augmented to mandate it to develop and implement social cohesion programmes and audit the functioning of branches. The proposed amendments have both a developmental and disciplinary element with the PEC having power to act against non-performing branches.
8. ELECTORAL COMMISSION
It is proposed that political contestation be managed through the Electoral Commission. Its members be appointed at or immediately after the Policy Conference. The approach of complementing the Commission with one representative per Province and the Leagues is mooted. The proposal includes additional powers to the Commission to screen candidates in accordance with the criteria set out in the “Through the Eye of the Needle” document to serve as a confidence-building mechanism and enhance credibility of the electoral process.
9. MANAGEMENT OF ORGANISATIONAL DISCIPLINE
NATIONAL DISPUTE RESOLUTION COMMITTEE & APPEALS COMMITTEE: The proposal is to establish these as Standing Committees as a mechanism for the resolution of certain disputes and would help restrict disputes to be resolved within the organization and not by the courts.
INTEGRITY COMMISSION: Proposals is to establish the Integrity Commission as a Constitutional structure to adjudicate over acts of misconduct centred on unethical behavior. Options to be considered include retaining the Commission as an independent body with power to call any member to account and inform leadership of its decisions, with power and authority strengthened. The second option is for the Commission to derive its mandate from and account to the relevant executive and make recommendations on its findings.