06/07/2017 11:12 SAST | Updated 06/07/2017 11:13 SAST

Everything You Need To Know About The ANC's Policy Conference

In case you missed it, these are some of the recommendations that emerged from the commissions.

South African President Jacob Zuma gestures during his closing remarks at the end of the ANC policy conference in Johannesburg on July 5 2017.
AFP / Getty Images
South African President Jacob Zuma gestures during his closing remarks at the end of the ANC policy conference in Johannesburg on July 5 2017.

Transformation and unity.

These were the two recurring themes that governed debate at the African National Congress' six-day National Policy Conference that concluded on Tuesday evening.

More than 3,500 party delegates from across the country gathered at the Nasrec Expo Centre in Johannesburg to discuss policy around key sectors of society and make recommendations that will be approved or thrown out at the party's national conference in December.

In case you missed it, here is everything you need to know:

The ANC and Zuma are paranoid about something

From day one, when the media were first introduced to their designated section of the facility, it was clear that the party was suspicious of its delegates leaking information. The media were fenced off from the main area of the conference and weren't able to mix with delegates as they had done at previous conferences, not even in the courtyard away from closed commissions. Zuma's entourage was also telling. When he visited the media holding on Tuesday, he was accompanied by at least 18 men and half a dozen cars.

A more unified ANC has emerged, so they say

One of the big problems that the ANC sought to rectify at the conference was factionalism and slate politics. It is clear the party remains split over who to elect as president in December. To avoid further contestation, one of the suggestions that came out of the conference was to have a second deputy president so as to include the candidate who obtained the second-highest number of votes in the race for the position of president.

Corruption and the Guptas

The ANC was open for the first time about scandals surrounding the Guptas. But although they were pressed for answers on the action they would take, party officials beat around the bush. It was clear there is no real plan. The party wants to strengthen the integrity commission adopted at the previous conference in Mangaung in 2012.

It wants the committee to be an independent structure with constitutional powers in the ANC to deal with anybody accused of corruption and thereafter report decisions back to the organisation.

White monopoly capital taken back to its roots

ANC National Executive Committee (NEC) member Joel Netshitenzhe, who presented the recommendations for strategies and tactics in the party, said nine of the 11 commissions recommended that the ideology of white monopoly capital be scrapped, and replaced with a more general monopoly capital.

Zuma reaffirmed this in his closing speech, saying the emphasis should be on monopoly capital being the "primary adversary of the collective interests of our people" regardless of its colour.

Smaller NEC, but more leaders

On organisational renewal, there was a recommendation to reduce the size of the NEC to a "smaller and workable" group of between 40 and 60 members.

It also recommended a second deputy secretary general for organisational building and new electoral procedures to be initiated. Commissions recommended that there be individual nominations for each position in the top six and that branches should only be able to nominate 20 people, not 60.

Radical socioeconomic transformation and inclusive ownership is a priority

Since the beginning of the year, radical socioeconomic transformation has been a household term in the ANC. The need for transformation of the economy, as well as shifting away from concentrated ownership in key sectors, was one of the big talking points at the conference.

Recommendations revolved around ensuring ownership reflects the racial and gender composition of broader society, transforming the sectoral composition of the economy based on a large and stable middle class and developing the economy in rural areas.

Beware outside influences

Fears of a brewing colour revolution -- a term ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe described as "a mode that escalates protest action of service delivery to challenge state power" -- and "forces seeking to undermine our advances" were high on the agenda for a party suspicious of regime change through domestic and foreign-led interventions.

We like the media, but...

It was clear that a media appeals tribunal is still very much on the cards. ANC Chief Whip Jackson Mthembu, providing feedback on the commission on communications and the battle of ideas, told journalists that Parliament should look into the best method of regulation of media to ensure accountability of journalists across the board.

Women and children are a priority

The party recommended that sanitary pads be made free to girls in school and that specialised children's courts be established. It wanted the age for child support grants to be extended from 18 to 21, provided the beneficiaries are still studying, and for the minimum sentence for violence against women to be between 15 and 20 years.

Nationalise the Reserve Bank

The ANC is debating the idea of nationalising the South African Reserve Bank but, at the same time, says its independence should be guaranteed. The party said the private ownership of the SARB was an "abnormality".

Land and mining

It seems opposing factions battled to reach consensus on land seizures and mine ownership. No clear recommendations were submitted but the party is contesting whether or not legislation needs to change to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation, or whether the Constitution is adequate to go on in carrying out land reform.

The party agreed that the mining industry needs to transform but is still deliberating over the design of the new Mining Charter.

Two more sub-committees –- one on education, health, science and technology and the other on legislature and governance –- have yet to report back. ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said documents will be published and the committees will hold press briefings on their recommendations in the near future.