The ANC’s two biggest provinces, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape, proposed mechanisms to avoid a brutal showdown between factions at the party’s December elective conference.
While the redistribution of land without compensation and other mechanisms for “radical socioeconomic transformation” remain areas of battle, there are other key indicators of factional dominance.
The race to succeed President Jacob Zuma looms over the conference, which was preceded by jockeying and tensions between factions supporting the two main candidates, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
The KwaZulu-Natal province, through its chairperson Sihle Zikalala, has publicly proposed a deal where the loser in the presidential race automatically becomes the deputy president. He says this would help to “dissolve factions”.
The proposal is not formally under discussion but KZN leaders have been talking it up at commissions and on the sidelines of the conference.
It is also part of the horse-trading with other provinces over policy positions.
It is understood that Zuma has also backed the KZN proposal in one of the closed-door commissions.
But there are some reservations about the proposed deal, which is only workable if there are two candidates in the race for the top job.
Already campaigns in support of Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, Speaker of parliament Baleka Mbete and former ANC treasurer-general Mathews Phosa are in progress.
So for KZN’s proposal to be feasible, other candidates will need to drop out or contest other positions at the December conference.
The Eastern Cape, meanwhile, has proposed changing the way elections are conducted to allow all ANC members across the country to vote for their leaders.
Provincial secretary Oscar Mabuyane believes opening up the vote to the broad membership of the ANC, rather than 5000 conference delegates, would ultimately kill slate politics and patronage.
While the “one member one vote” proposal is receiving some backing from other provinces, it is not a realistic solution to the current succession battle.
A change to the voting system would require amendments to the ANC constitution, which only the national conference can approve.
In order for all ANC members to vote, there would need to be an extensive auditing and verification process.
A mechanism to allow countrywide voting would also need to be set up. Some delegates are proposing that this be a biometric voting system.
While the election of new ANC leaders is receiving some attention at the policy conference, how they are disciplined and removed from office is not a hot topic.