Natasha Marrian Political editor: Business Day
President Jacob Zuma. Picture: KOPANO TLAPE/GCIS
President Jacob Zuma. Picture: KOPANO TLAPE/GCIS

ANC party branches will in coming months discuss constitutional amendment mooted by President Jacob Zuma for two deputy presidents.

The proposal is contained in the final draft of amendments from the ANC’s constitutional affairs committee, circulated to structures by secretary-general Gwede Mantashe this week.

Zuma first suggested the change at the ANC’s policy conference in June to unite warring factions and avert a bruising election battle at the party’s national conference to be held in December.

Coupled with other proposals in the document, the change is set to result in the ANC’s top structure swelling to nine or 10 from the current six.

The party has a record number of party presidential hopefuls ahead of the December conference. Seven candidates — including Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, former AU head Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Housing Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, party treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize and his predecessor, Mathews Phosa — have launched campaigns for the party presidency.

ANC spokesman Zizi Kodwa on Wednesday said all constitutional amendments relating to the election of leaders would take place before the leadership election during a plenary session of the conference.

A two-thirds majority is required for the amendments to be accepted.

Zuma’s proposal was for two deputy presidents and for the losing candidate for the party presidency to automatically be appointed as the party’s first deputy president. He punted this as a way to loosen the grip of factions on the ANC. The proposed amendments also include a proposal to formalise the party’s top structure, currently called "the officials".

The party’s Polokwane conference rejected this proposal, but it is once again on the table.

If agreed to, the proposal would mean that the top ANC officials’ structure would be bound to the party’s strict principle of gender parity — it would have to consist of 50% males and 50% females. The office of party secretary-general could also be in for a shake-up.

There is one deputy to Mantashe at present. The amendments contain two options: one for two deputies and another for three.

Another proposal is for the ANC’s national executive committee, its top decision-making structure, to be reduced to 60. It now stands at 86.

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