A major early setback for President Cyril Ramaphosa’s clean-up of the ANC, a key platform for his presidential bid, was the party's resolution on its integrity commission. The implication of Ramaphosa losing that key battle at the party’s 54th national conference at Nasrec is that his attempts to polish the ANC’s image and clear the rot will be held hostage to the whims of factions in the party — as it was during the Jacob Zuma era. The ANC discussed a proposal at the conference to give the integrity commission more teeth; to allow the commission itself to take firm decisions in ordering members bringing the party into disrepute to step aside. The debate, however, was lost by Ramaphosa’s supporters and the argument — by Zuma loyalists such as Supra Mahumapelo and Mzwandile Masina — was that allowing the commission such powers would make it more powerful than the party’s national executive committee (NEC). The argument went that the NEC was the highest decision-making body between co...

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