President Cyril Ramaphosa is adamant that the African National Congress (ANC) emerged from the 55th elective conference more united than before.
He labelled the gathering as a “watershed” period for the governing party.
ANC elective conference 2022
The newly re-elected president on Tuesday closed the conference of a party that doesn’t have a National Executive Committee (NEC) and still has to formally adopt policies.
Conference schedules ran behind from the first day due to accreditation problems. Some delegates still waited to be registered by the second day.
These setbacks and a rowdy delegation, mostly comprised of groups from KwaZulu-Natal, further showed the deepened divisions that have marred the party for years.
‘Solidify our unity’
However, Ramaphosa said there has been some progress since the unity and renewal project was launched at the 2017 conference.
“There have been moments at this conference that have tested our unity and cohesion. But thanks to the political consciousness and for the most part the discipline amongst yourselves as delegates, whatever differences amongst us did not distract us from the critical work that the people of this country expect and require of us.
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“There have been attempts to divide us, to provoke us and to divert us from the tasks that we
must undertake in advancing our national democratic revolution. I can testify that this conference is going to solidify our unity and cohesion as the ANC.”
He added that the unity project he spearheaded since 2017 “hasn’t been an easy journey,” and that the party was able to pick itself up to continue on its path to renewal.
‘Branches have spoken’
As the conference got into full swing ahead of voting for the re-structured top 7 leaders, negotiations and horsetrading saw some provinces change branch mandates on preferred leaders.
Ramaphosa said the party’s tradition of branch, regional and provincial gatherings before the national conference has been “victorious.”
“The branches have spoken by choosing the leadership that will emerge from here. The ANC has spoken.
The strong democratic tradition that underpins the founding of our movement has been victorious once more,” he said to applause from delegates.
He criticised the inability of the ANC to elect more women for top leadership positions.
Women holding ANC top posts
For the first time in its over 100-year history, the ANC has three women holding top posts, including Nomvula Mokonyane and Marupene Ramokgopa, who form part of the secretary-general’s office.
The two are the first and second deputy secretary-generals respectively.
That was not enough, said the president.
“This is great progress, but it is not enough. We should not rest until we have achieved full equality in all structures of our movement – equality in terms of representation, participation and of opportunity”.
Ending his speech, Ramaphosa urged his party to speed up work on the national health insurance (NHI), end Eskom’s power cuts, build a thriving economy, and fix schools, hospitals and the infrastructure.
The event was adjourned until 5 January when a hybrid session will be held to complete the business of the 55th elective conference.
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