Durban – ANC regions in KwaZulu-Natal are expected to start meeting this weekend to discuss key policy proposals for the upcoming national elective conference, including the contentious step-aside resolution and whether there should be an age cap for party leaders.
Regional secretaries from across the country on Wednesday sent memos to branches asking them to convene branch general meetings to discuss the national policy conference recommendations and to make submissions before December 6.
It said the regions must convene a meeting of delegates to present consolidated policy proposals to the national conference, which starts on December 16.
On Tuesday, acting secretary-general Paul Mashatile also sent a final list of proposed constitutional amendments to be tabled at the elective conference and to be discussed by regions before December 6.
The proposals include whether party members older than 65 years of age should enjoy full membership rights except being voted for in positions of leadership, the need for a second deputy secretary-general (DSG) and whether the party should vet those applying to be members and deny membership to those found guilty of stealing money meant for projects that would have benefited the poor, unemployed, vulnerable and marginalised in society and those who do not pay child support.
There is growing consensus that the age cap will not be adopted as a proposal, with party insiders saying it, opens the door to having the conversation again in the future.
Zenzele Msomi, secretary of the Harry Gwala region, said their region would meet on Saturday to discuss policy documents at a regional level, and they would then provide a consolidated response to the party in the province.
“We have already discussed the age cap of 65 for positions of leadership and disagree with this policy proposal. We must guard against ageism and believe in a generational mix with young and more senior leaders working together,” said Msomi.
He said if the policy proposal makes it to the elective conference, then the specifics could be discussed, and it was certainly a discussion that could be placed on the table in the future.
Bheki Khanyile, spokesperson for the Josiah Gumede region, said they were looking forward to the provincial general council (PGC) meeting and had heard that a tentative date had been set for the first weekend in December.
“The PGC will be important because it will allow regions to consolidate, especially on the critical policy discussions that will take place next month.”
Khanyile said the region did not believe that age should be a factor in the leadership of the party, and they disagreed with the notion of an age cap.
“A person may be younger, but this does not necessarily translate into them making a contribution to the organisation. We want the generational mix to continue to play a part, so that young leaders can learn from the older generation. We do not undervalue the benefit of institutional memory and see it as a crucial part of the party culture,” said Khanyile.
Thandeka Ngidi-Mkhize, spokesperson for the General Gizenga Mpanza region, said it was essential that the PGC take place before the elective conference.
“This is crucial so that delegates attending the elective conference know how to approach the various policy commissions. The age cap policy proposal will be debated at length, but it is the step-aside policy which will get considerable focus.
“We believe it has been biased in its application, with some people stepping aside while others have not,” said Ngidi-Mkhize.
ANC provincial spokesperson Mafika Mndebele said the provincial working committee had not set a date yet for the PGC, but it is something that was ‘definitely being considered’.