FILE PIC: President Jacob Zuma delivers the opening address at the ANC's 5th national policy conference taking place in Johannesburg. PHOTO: Jonisayi Maromo/ANA

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Don’t discard losing candidates at ANC conferences: Zuma

JOHANNESBURG, July 5 – In a bid to deal a deadly blow to factions and slates within the governing African National Congress, President Jacob Zuma on Wednesday proposed that the losing candidate in the race for ANC presidency should become the deputy president at the party’s elective conferences.

“For us to succeed we must get rid of the factions. If one comrade wins, let us not get rid of the one who did not win. Let us make the one who came number two to be a deputy of the one who won. This will make both factions come together and work together,” said Zuma to loud applause and cheers as he delivered his closing remarks at the 5th national policy conference in Johannesburg.

“If we say these comrades have not won, and all of them are are out, they get angry and they fight against those who have won. It is a destructive system that doesn’t help the ANC. If you out them together, those with more [support] and those less – nobody has lost. Even when we begin to deploy, these candidates [from both factions] stand for consideration and we work together.”

Zuma said however such an option poses the question of what happens to branches’ right to nominate a deputy president, besides the candidates vying for the presidential post at the conference.

The president’s answer: “I think for the sake of our unity, for the sake of the organization, we need to amend the ANC’s constitution. The comrade who was nominated to become the deputy [by the branches] … becomes the number two deputy. Unless we change the constitution to get rid of the nomination of the deputy president.”

Zuma said having two deputy presidents is “a very practical thing”. He said the party structures have to accommodate everybody and cement unity in the party.

“This is an option. You can discuss and come up with any other formula. This you must go and discuss,” said Zuma.

He appealed to branches to find a remedy to unite competing factions which have become permanent in the party.

“The experiences of the last two national conferences have taught us that the factionally driven ‘winner takes all’ attitude is not in the best interest of the ANC. It is worth repeating what I said during the opening remarks to this conference that our movement has lost many talented and capable comrades in whom it invested significantly due to slate politics, a terrible manifestation of perennial factionalism,” said Zuma.

To this end, Zuma said the ANC had to find and introduce campaign mechanisms which would not have members “lobbying as if there is no tomorrow”.

“One of these is to build consensus in the structures of the ANC that candidates contesting for official positions should feature in the leadership collective even if they lose,” said Zuma.

He said there was “consensus” within the ANC that the governing party could no longer afford to totally reject leaders who were preferred by a significant number of members to lead.

– African News Agency (ANA)

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