Monday, December 17, 2007

ANC Conference at Polokwane Increases NEC and Women's Representation

ANC increases NEC and women's representation

The ANC's presidential nomination process drew closer on Monday night as the party agreed to a constitutional amendment that would increase its National Executive Committee (NEC) to 86, including top officials, and that the number of women represented in its structures to 50 percent.

However, there is a discrepancy about whether the gender parity percentage should apply to the top six positions too.

Gauteng ANC chairman and finance MEC Paul Mashatile said: "Conference has not agreed that it should apply to the top six positions. The 50/50 issue had been agreed upon, but not whether it applies to all the structures."

He said this would be decided at the commissions that delegates were due to attend.

The previous NEC was 60 plus six top officials

The amendment was passed to reach the party's objective of full representation of women in decision-making structures. To enable such participation, the party decided to implement a "programme of affirmative action". The previous percentage for the representation of women was one third.

The previous NEC was 60 plus six top officials, and the increase was to ensure a greater spread of representatives.

Passing the constitutional amendments and the earlier acceptance of the credentials of the 3 900 delegates clarifies the conditions for the nominations process due to begin later on Monday evening.

It also tells the electoral commission how many names have to be put on to the ballot papers for the nominations for the NEC.

The electoral process has seen the conference delayed several times as these issues, and a change to manual ballot counting for the top six positions, to allay fears of vote rigging, are finalised.

The number of voting delegates from Gauteng, which overwhelmingly backed presidential challenger Jacob Zuma at branch level was dramatically slashed.

Certain branches were disqualified from sending delegates because they failed to meet before the conference, or met but did not achieve a quorum.

Mashatile said: "We were hoping that all the delegates from branches in good standing should be allowed to vote."

Some branches followed procedure, but others did not.

"And therefore we had to make a decision that we didn't want to bog conference down to fighting that these delegates be allowed to vote when in fact all other provinces are not getting the same privilege," he said.

"So as a result, we compromised," said Mashatile.

"Of course we are unhappy because it's not nice to lose 96 voting delegates, and most of them came here to amongst others also participate in voting. But they understood that you wouldn't want to have a matter that can collapse conference because you're insisting on something that everybody doesn't agree with."

Mashatile continued: "Whilst I may be saddened with the fact that my delegates, 96 of them, may not vote, I'm happy that the credentials have been now accepted. This will allow conference to proceed smoothly."

Asked if this could be a blow to Zuma he said: "Well, you don't know who those delegates would vote for, because remember the majority of delegates in Gauteng support Jacob Zuma, but there were others... supporting President Mbeki. So the 96 delegates that may not vote could come from any side."

In the Eastern Cape, 906 branch delegates were allocated seats at the conference by the party's NEC.

The Eastern Cape, with 153 164 paid-up members and the largest of the ANC provinces, backed Mbeki. The largest region in the province however, OR Tambo, declared its "unwavering support" for Zuma.

However, 29 branches were disqualified from sending a delegate, resulting in 877 delegates being present.

The NEC had been allocated 63 delegates and 62 were present. Former Justice Minister Penuell Maduna was absent. Didiza could not explain why.

All 68 of the ANC Youth League's allocated delegates were present, as were all 68 of the Women's League's.

KwaZulu-Natal, the province that returned the strongest support for Zuma, had its voting delegates decreased by two, from 608 to 606.

Three branches from the Free State were also disqualified after failing to meet a court deadline to hold new meetings by December 13.

While it had been agreed that votes for the top six ANC leadership posts would be counted manually, the method to be used for counting NEC members' votes had not been decided on yet.

While only Mbeki and Zuma had been formally nominated, for another nomination from the floor to stand, it would need the support of 25 percent of delegates. - Sapa

Published on the Web by IOL on 2007-12-17 20:45:51

Some ANC Delegates Lose Out

One hundred and seventy-five delegates at the ANC conference won't get a chance to vote for the party's leadership.

The head of the credentials committee, Thoko Didiza, said they will receive voting rights because their branches had not reached a quorum at their Branch General Meetings (BGMs).

Out of 4 075 delegates which were accredited to vote, only 3 900 will be allowed to take part in voting for the ANC's top six positions, including the party's National Executive Committee.

The Eastern Cape - which nominated President Thabo Mbeki for President will have the largest number of voting delegates with 877, followed by Jacob Zuma's stronghold of KwaZulu-Natal with 606 delegates.

Limpopo has sent the third-largest province in terms of numbers with 397 voting delegates, while the Free State has 358 delegates.

Another Zuma stronghold - the Mpumalanga province has been allowed 320 delegates and the North West has 263 eligible delegates.

Gauteng is the biggest loser in the auditing process which saw the number of their potential voting delegates dropped by 96 voting delegates - from 354 to 258. The Western Cape has been allowed 219 voting delegates while the Northern Cape came last - in terms of provincial numbers - with 216 delegates.

The ANC Womens League and the ANC Youth League - which are allocated 68 voting delegates each - will have all their delegates voting.

In the number of delegates allowed to vote from the ANC's National Executive Committee only the former minister of justice, Penuel Maduna, won't be voting as he is absent at the conference, bringing their voting numbers down to 62.

Didiza could not give reasons on Maduna's absence.

On the way the credentials committee rooted out corrupt practices, Didiza said: "One of the ways prevent these is to scan voters' credentials before they cast their votes and check their names against the voters' roll. We were able to pick up people who had duplicated their credentials before
this conference even before they came here."

The conference is now discussing the issue of the amending the party's constitution, which could see the number of the NEC members increase if the delegates accept it, before nominations and voting begins on Monday night.

'Stop Zuma anarchists'

17 December 2007, 15:29

"Stop the anarchy" caused by Jacob Zuma's camp at the ANC's national conference, Deputy Defence Minister Mluleki George told Thabo Mbeki supporters on Monday.

"Some of us are joining them because of intimidation. We must stop this anarchy before they got to power," he said at the conference venue in Polokwane.

George was addressing delegates who had filled about a third of a large grandstand on the University of Limpopo's campus after lunch.

Tensions in the battle between Mbeki and Zuma for the leadership of the party have heightened since the conference got off to a stormy start on Sunday.

Mbeki, current African National Congress president, and Zuma, his deputy, are so far the only two candidates nominated for the next term of the party presidency.

George told the group before the afternoon's formal conference proceedings resumed: "At the moment, comrades, we are on top of them."

His remarks triggered an outburst of cheering, whistling and clapping.

George urged the Mbeki camp to remain disciplined and confident.

"We must make sure that we are disciplined. The spirit, comrades, must be kept like this," he said to more cheering.

George said he was saddened by the disorder at the start of the conference on Sunday morning.

"What we saw yesterday, is a clear indication that we must save the organisation."

A woman from the Free State said: "We are going to save the ANC from anarchy."

Afterwards, several metres away in front of the main tent, supporters of Zuma could be heard singing his trademark song "Bring me my machine gun". - Sapa

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