- Feb 11, 2006
All systems go for Polokwane
After months of preparations, the ANC's 52nd National Conference is about to begin at the University of Limpopo in Polokwane. This will be the culmination of almost a year of political deliberations in ANC structures throughout the country covering issues of policy, organisational renewal and leadership.
Meeting earlier this week, the ANC National Executive Committee considered the political, organisational and financial reports it is required to present to conference, the programme and rules, and the logistical arrangements for what is the largest ANC conference to date.
The NEC reviewed the draft of the Secretary General's organisation report in detail, which covers the work and state of the organisation over the last five years. The report provides a record of the main programmes, activities and organisational developments since the last National Conference, in Stellenbosch in 2002. It also provides a critical analysis of the achievements, shortcomings, strengths and weaknesses of the organisation.
The report is expected, among others, to form the basis for commission discussions on organisational renewal, constitutional amendments and the ANC programme of action to 2012.
The NEC confirmed its confidence in the delegates to conference to rise to the challenge of charting a path for the movement for the next five years, to unite and strengthen the movement, and to adopt policies and programmes that make a real difference to the lives of all South Africans, particularly the poor. In this, conference delegates will be required to faithfully reflect the views of the general membership of the ANC.
Delegates will also need to demonstrate the discipline and commitment to this task that the structures who mandated them will expect. It is important that participants at conference, whether delegates, observers or guests, desist from any conduct that may be divisive, disruptive or otherwise deviate from the democratic traditions of the movement.
The conference rules, which will be adopted at the opening of conference, prohibit the display or distribution of material that is divisive or may promote factionalism. Conference participants may, therefore, not wear t-shirts or other clothing featuring any of the candidates for election to the NEC. This prohibition includes official ANC t-shirts produced for past election campaigns.
To ensure that delegates are able to exercise their democratic rights and responsibilities without interference, only accredited delegates, whose participation has been determined in accordance with the ANC constitution, will be allowed access to the conference precint and immediate surroundings.
Almost all of the 4,075 voting delegates have been accredited. In addition, conference will be attended by 450 non-voting ANC delegates, 135 observers from allied organisations, and 360 local and international guests. There will also be 200 support staff, over 1,000 service providers, and nearly 700 representatives of media organisations.
Work has been completed on the erection of the main conference structures, including the plenary venue, which seats 5,000 people; the dining area, which can serve 3,000 people at a time; and various structures for support services.
An inspection of all the residences has been completed, and these are ready for occupation by delegates, all of whom will be arriving during the course of Saturday.
All participants will receive their accreditation on Saturday 15 December at a registration centre that has been set up in an aircraft hangar at Polokwane International Airport. Only people who have pre-registered will be given accreditation.
Concerning the issue of the NEC nominations, the Electoral Commission released a statement that said:
"The ANC Electoral Commission again calls on any Conference delegates with allegations that bribery or undue influence is being used to secure their vote for a particular candidate, to come forward and report the matter.
"We have not received any formal complaints about such activities, in spite of the many allegations and rumours that have appeared in the media. The small number of complaints we have received have all been of an administrative nature and have been resolved or referred to the correct structures.
"We would like to remind delegates and ANC supporters that the elections in Polokwane will be by secret ballot and that all delegates will be free to make their own choices. The elections will be managed by an independent agency of professional election administrators - The Elexions Agency. The Commission, which oversees and monitors the elections, will be expanded from the present twelve veterans to include a representative from each province and the Women's League and Youth League.
"A code of conduct and rules for the elections will be adopted by Conference on the first day and delegates who make themselves guilty of misconduct will be dealt with by disciplinary structures.
"We are confident that the systems are in place to ensure that the elections will be free and fair and that delegates will demonstrate integrity when performing the very serious responsibility of electing the next leadership of the ANC."
The NEC emerged from its meeting confident that all political preparations and logistical arrangements are in place for a productive and successful conference, one which will stand the ANC in good stead as it advances to its centenary in 2012.