President Jacob Zuma gestures during the 54th ANC national conference in Johannesburg. Picture: REUTERS
President Jacob Zuma gestures during the 54th ANC national conference in Johannesburg. Picture: REUTERS

The ANC on Wednesday night held a rushed briefing on its key policy decisions without providing significant detail.

The main policy areas were land reform, ownership of the South African Reserve Bank, free higher education, governance at state-owned entities and communications.

The conference endorsed President Jacob Zuma’s announcement that the government would introduce fully subsidised free higher education and training for poor and working-class undergraduate students.

This was despite concern that free education was not affordable in the context of the government’s constrained finances, which will result in large spending cuts and tax increases in February’s budget.

Business Day earlier this week reported that the Treasury had been blind-sided by the announcement and had also tried hard to persuade Zuma to delay any announcement until delivery of the budget.

Head of the ANC’s subcommittee on health and education, Naledi Pandor, said there was a "very strong call" for the government to speedily implement the president’s call.

"Conference said this is something they would want to see government implementing from 2018 and they welcomed the announcements made by President Zuma," she said.

The conference spent the last two days in commissions discussing the party’s policy positions and making resolutions.

There were a number of
policies around legislature and governance, health and education, peace and security, organisational renewal and strategy and tactics.

Not much changed from proposals made at the ANC’s June policy conference.

One of the key policy decisions at the conference was on expropriation of land without compensation, which has been a contentious issue in the party and in broader society. Economic transformation sub-committee head Enoch Godongwana said the conference agreed the Constitution should be amended to achieve expropriation without compensation.

The land issue was also discussed in the legislature and governance commission, where it was resolved to transfer the ownership of 13% of the land back to communities under traditional leadership.

Legislature and governance subcommittee member Obed Bapela said communities would decide how to use the land after title deeds had been handed over to traditional authorities.

The land is currently under the control of municipalities under the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act, which traditional leaders rejected in 2015.

Communities would also have the power to decide on the form of the title deeds at the point of transfer.

Bapela said the policy included restrictions which would determine conditions for land use to avoid it lying fallow.

It would be done legally and there would be conditions on transfers such as security of tenure for those living on the land, Bapela said.

The ANC also resolved that there should be an accountability framework which would hold party deployees in the government and state-owned enterprises accountable on governance issues and ensure that they implement the mandate of the organisation.

Jackson Mthembu, the ANC’s subcommittee head on communications, said the party had decided that SA should migrate from analogue to digital broadcasts by June 2019.

The previous deadline to migrate by June 2016 had been missed by then communications minister Faith Muthambi due to the tussle over encryption of the signal.

David Mahlobo, chairman of the national executive committee subcommittee on peace and stability, said the conference did not discuss the draft regulations for a state of emergency.

Weeks before the conference, Sunday newspaper Rapport revealed that regulations had been drafted for a state of emergency.

The Presidency rubbished the report, but the draft regulations were later shared by the newspaper and also published by Right2Know.

The draft stemmed from a continuing initiative of the justice, crime prevention and security cluster, which began its work in 2016.

The draft regulations would ban anyone from writing‚ publishing or broadcasting threatening material.

Members of the security forces would be allowed to use as much force as necessary to restore law and order‚ as long as it was proportional.

Speaking to reporters on the outcomes of the legislature and governance commission, ANC Johannesburg regional chairman Parks Tau said the political and executive authorities of state-owned entities needed to be held accountable. 

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