The ANC might have pulled a last-minute stop to avert a widely anticipated court interdict and protest action on Thursday morning against the proceedings of its policy conference, but it now faces the bigger battle to ensure that it emerges united from this conference, despite contrasting views on issues such as its step-aside policy.
Two of the biggest provinces, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo, are leading the charge to have the step-aside rule scrapped after making declarations at the provincial conference and provincial general council, respectively.
The step-aside rule requires that those who are charged with serious crimes, such as corruption, murder and rape, are removed from their positions until the conclusion of their cases.
City Press has learnt that ANC employees were initially contemplating interdicting the organisation from hosting the policy conference, which started with the presidential gala dinner on Wednesday and is scheduled to end on Sunday.
Among the top lawyers they approached to represent them was Advocate Dali Mpofu.
However, in a bid to avert the embarrassment of the protests which had started earlier in the week, the party paid all its unpaid employees their June salaries on Thursday, with a promise to pay the July salaries after the policy conference.
While the party’s national working committee was meeting on Tuesday evening to discuss the final preparations for the conference, the employees’ steering committee was also meeting to discuss the programme of action to disrupt the conference through the court and protests.
Despite receiving their salaries, some employees proceeded to picket outside the delegates’ accreditation centre in Turffontein, Johannesburg, on Thursday. The employees were demanding to be paid their July salaries as a matter of urgency.
As President Cyril Ramaphosa was addressing guests during the presidential gala dinner on Wednesday night, the staff protested outside.
ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe told the media that the party was doing everything to raise funds so that staff salaries would be paid. He said the issue of salaries, raised by staff members, was being addressed not because of the policy conference, but because it involved people’s livelihoods.
In terms of the policy conference, we expect a robust debate from delegates, as the party always does.
Mabe said there was nothing that suggested that the conference wouldn’t happen, because they had planned and prepared on time.
He promised tight security around the area to avoid the entry of nonaccredited delegates.
With the police visibility in the area, no nonaccredited person was allowed to come close to the conference centre at the Nasrec expo centre.
The party is expected to debate, among other issues, the controversial step-aside rule.
Despite having its treasurer, Mandla Msibi, facing serious crimes of murder and attempted murder, Mpumalanga has reaffirmed its support for the step-aside rule.
The party will also discuss organisational renewal, economic and social transformation, ways to combat state capture and corruption, gender equity, and emancipation of women.