The effort to unite, renew and rebuild the ANC has received a massive boost with the deliberations of the ANC’s National Policy Conference.
Over the course of six days branch delegates from across the country confronted the challenges facing the organisation and signalled their determination to address these. Some of the most immediate challenges were laid bare in a diagnostic organisational report presented to the conference by Secretary General Gwede Mantashe.
It noted a growing trust deficit between the people and the movement, perceptions that the ANC is inherently corrupt, a decline in the quality of branches and membership and the existence of divisions and factions. It also pointed to a lack of trust among comrades and a decline in ideological outlook. Significantly, the discussion document on Strategy and Tactics for the first time in the ANC’s history looked at the organisational capacity of the liberation movement to bring about a national democratic society.
The discussions on organisational renewal dealt directly and openly with the weaknesses in the ANC and came up with practical proposals on how to address these. Importantly, the conference was not willing merely to lament about the problems, but took a serious look at how to correct the shortcomings.
The proposals on organisational renewal will, together with the other outcomes, now be circulated to structures for discussion before being adopted at the ANC’s 54th National Conference in December.
Just as important as the discussions was the mood inside the conference. A small but vocal section of delegates was clearly intent on using the conference to ght a proxy battle over leadership. Their efforts received wide coverage and much encouragement in the media. However, the overwhelming majority of delegates were intent only on strengthening and uniting the ANC and ensuring that it developed policy proposals that would address the needs of the poor. In the end, the efforts of the majority prevailed. The outcomes of the conference reflect a movement that is aware of its serious weaknesses and is determined to fix them.