The word of ANC branches means nada ahead of conference


A considerable amount was discussed at the National Policy Conference earlier this year, but what remains extraordinary is the lack of interest in internal electoral reform at the African National Congress (ANC).

In the build-up to the 54th National Conference of the ANC, there have been complaints about corruption, malfeasance, state capture, Jacob Zuma and Cabinet reshuffles but not a word on what is clearly a flawed internal electoral process of the governing party.

There are several factors that could influence the outcome at this year’s race to Luthuli House, but chief among them is an electoral system that is, in itself, a breeding ground for corruption.

There is absolutely nothing stopping a delegate – whose branch wants one candidate to be elected – from changing his/her mind at the 11th hour and voting against the wishes of the branch represented. I think the word they use for this is betrayal.

If a lobby group for one candidate is feeling saucy, it could splash some cash, promise a few shares or even a promotion of some kind in exchange for a vote.

However, others say something as simple as being nice to a delegate at the National Conference can seal the deal.

Just this week, it was revealed by one of the country’s premier publications (Mail and Guardian) that Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa had already won over the favour of 768 branches throughout the country.

The same publication said his closest rival, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, had only been able to muster votes from 360 branches. By all accounts the campaigns of Lindiwe Sisulu, Zweli Mkhize, Jeff Radebe, Baleka Mbete and Mathews are not gathering any momentum.

It looks promising for Ramaphosa and with good reason. The Deputy President has run a sophisticated and comprehensive campaign, despite all the restrictions that have been put on him. If the race to Luthuli House was just about running a solid campaign, this would be Ramaphosa’s race to lose.

The man has put in all the hard yards, and quite frankly the campaigns of all the other candidates – including Dlamini-Zuma – have been damp squibs. It is actually quite extraordinary that Dlamini-Zuma has the confidence of those 360 branches.

Nevertheless, that is not the point. The point and the reality is that the 768 branches that Ramaphosa has reportedly won over means nowt, zilch, nada. There is too much room for ‘betrayal’ and human beings, being what they are can also be bought for nowth, zilch, nada.

During his sophisticated campaign, Ramaphosa has made some startling allegations. Chief among them, at one of his speaking engagements, was that votes were already being bought ahead of the National Conference. He knows how this game works and yet he says and does little to nothing about it.

How has that very aspect not featured more prominently in his campaign? How has it not featured more prominently in the speaking engagements of his allies?

By Siya Mchunu