Jacob Zuma: His supporters pushed for expropriation of land without compensation. Picture: MASI LOSI
Jacob Zuma: His supporters pushed for expropriation of land without compensation. Picture: MASI LOSI

The biggest takeaway from the ANC’s fifth policy conference is not what the party has resolved, but rather the contentious issues which delegates could not agree on.

The pro-Jacob Zuma faction used its numbers, flooding strategic commissions like “economic transformation”, while the other side had stronger arguments, leading to deadlock. The outcome on land expropriation is one of the most striking examples of this.

The Zuma side pushed for the constitution to be amended so that government could expropriate land without compensation. Others said current law was sufficient and only the process had to be speeded up. Consensus could not be reached and it was decided both proposals be further discussed by ANC branches. A resolution would be taken at December’s elective conference

Economic transformation sub-committee head Enoch Godongwana, referring to the ANC’s 1992 Ready to Govern document, which resolved that government identify specific land types for expropriation, said an audit of land, including that belonging to government, would be done.

“We cannot move with speed in land redistribution and restitution without the land audit,” he said.

Issues which had plunged the country into crisis, such as Zuma’s midnight cabinet reshuffle, the technical recession and alleged state capture by the Guptas, also fell by the wayside. Peace & stability subcommittee member David Mahlobo, when asked about the Guptas and corruption said “we chose to discuss policy, not events or incidents”. Mahlobo, who is also state security minister, stuck to the party line that “corruption is a cancer” and that Zuma was establishing a judicial commission of inquiry into state capture.

The Financial Mail understands that during the economic transformation debate, which was flooded by Zuma’s youth league and military veterans allies, Zuma critic and national executive committee member Derek Hanekom proposed that all state-owned entities stop doing business with the Guptas.

This proposal was taken to plenary for discussion, meaning it enjoyed general consensus in the commission. But not a word was said when media were briefed on the outcomes of plenary.

The ANC is yet to release its report on the conference, which will document all proposals taken.

Little if anything was said about the state of the economy or how to boost growth, bar putting the SA Reserve Bank in the hands of the state. The word “white” was removed from the term du jour “white monopoly capital”.

It was decided not to adopt the new mining charter, out of concerns over its “design”.

Godongwana was quick to tell journalists that resolutions taken were not final and that media headlines were tanking the rand.

“That is why the rand is falling because you guys are telling them these are decisions. When we decided to have a national policy conference it was intended to process discussions because in elective conference people focus on leadership,” he said.

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