54th ANC National Conference 6.12.2017 06:01 am

ANC delegates, not provinces, count

President Jacob Zuma, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and Zweli Mkhize sing and dance during the African National Congress (ANC) 5th national policy conference at the Nasrec Expo Centre on July 05, 2017 in Johannesburg, South Africa. 3500 delegates from branches across the country gathered for the conference to discuss the party’s policies going into the elective conference in December, where changes and new policies will be ratified. Picture: Gallo Images

President Jacob Zuma, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and Zweli Mkhize sing and dance during the African National Congress (ANC) 5th national policy conference at the Nasrec Expo Centre on July 05, 2017 in Johannesburg, South Africa. 3500 delegates from branches across the country gathered for the conference to discuss the party’s policies going into the elective conference in December, where changes and new policies will be ratified. Picture: Gallo Images

The party’s system is tailor-made for abuse, prompting Helen Zille to tweet: ‘The ANC’s leadership election process is a recipe for corruption.’

We are bombarded with detail about which provinces favour Cyril Ramaphosa or Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in the ANC leadership election. Does it matter? These are mere nominations.

Support from provinces does not decide the outcome. Provinces do not vote as united blocs. The final decision will be made by individual branch delegates, not by provinces.

Although delegates are morally obliged to carry out their branches’ wishes, this is not legally or practically enforceable because the ballot is secret. Delegates are free to exercise their choice, which may be different from what was decided at branch level.

And if ANC members follow Number One’s moral example, they will have no qualms about selling their votes. When your leader has sold out the party, and flogged off state-owned enterprises, why worry about hawking a conference vote to the highest bidder?

Temptation exists. The party’s system is tailor-made for abuse, prompting Helen Zille to tweet: “The ANC’s leadership election process is a recipe for corruption.”

The average price for a delegate’s vote is about R50 000. From this, we can do some calculations, although the final number of delegates remains uncertain because of legal challenges.

On October 6, the party announced the allocation of branch delegates per province, totalling 4 723. A branch needs 100 valid members before it is entitled to one delegate, and 250 members for the next delegate, and so on. Huge branches sway the balance.

To these totals must be added the ANC “top five” leaders in each province, who enjoy single votes as special delegates. Other special delegates include the party’s national executive committee, plus leaderships of the ANC Youth League, ANC Women’s League and the ANC Veterans’ League.

Thus, more than 5 000 could vote at Nasrec from December 16. Depending on how many people have to be paid off (and their asking price), it might cost up to R250 million to “buy” the election. While that’s a lot of money to you and me, it is no problem for people who are accustomed to exporting billions in Dubai-bound suitcases. Still, they may be wondering whether it is worth spending so much to capture the leadership of a dwindling party.

Even secretary-general Gwede Mantashe says the ANC is in danger of achieving less than 50% of the vote in the 2019 elections. And we’ve seen in the metros what happens when the ANC dips below 50%. Coalitions take over. So the country’s next president could well come from a different party. In that sense, there is too much focus on Jacob Zuma’s successor as ANC leader.

A more intriguing question is which candidate will improve the chances of the opposition in 2019? Vote-shedder Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma would help the opposition.

Yet if she succeeds Zuma as the country’s president early next year, SA’s junk trajectory will be accelerated. This country cannot afford NDZ, not even briefly. The markets predict a Cyril Ramaphosa victory in December, which will make the opposition’s job tougher. But who can foretell how the vast network of Zuma corruption beneficiaries will react when cut off from their income sources?

Brace for desperate reaction to a Ramaphosa victory.

Martin Williams.

Martin Williams.

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