The first day of the 54th national conference of South Africa’s governing party ended without the announcement of nominations for the party’s top six leaders.
The plenary session at which the issue of credentials ahead of the nominations process was set to be discussed on Saturday night was adjourned until 9am on Sunday.
Earlier in the day, a number of delegates complained that they were not on the list to vote for new leadership.
The conference started late after the national executive committee met to discuss the court battles in three provinces.
It was decided that members of the provincial executive committees in these provinces would not be able to vote.
President Jacob Zuma had opened the conference with an assurance that state capture would be investigated and a warning that party members should not turn to the courts to deal with internal matters.
Zuma said in his final address as party leader that the party needs to implement more radical measures for all South Africans to share in the wealth of the country:
“Doing nothing almost guarantees that there will be leaky progress in the resolution of the triple challenge of poverty, inequality and unemployment.”
On corruption, one of the sore points of his administration, Zuma said corruption in the private sector was being played down:
“Serious concerns have been raised about corruption in the private sector which is treated with kid gloves and is referred to in softer terms such as collusion, accounting irregularities or lapses in corporate governance.”
Turning to the sensitive land redistribution issue, the president said concrete steps were being taken to resolve the land question.
“The Office of the Valuer-General has been set up and has begun to change the manner in which the calculation of fair compensation is done,” he assured the delegates.
The president expressed concern over what he called the unprecedented move of alliance partners COSATU and SACP to “march with right wing forces”, citing the decision by the communist party to prevent him from addressing its congress earlier in the year, and undermining the ANC by contesting local government election on its own.
Zuma also lashed out at those who claimed that victory by his ex-wife Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma’s would implode the ANC and collapse the economy, saying the party has experience to manage succession:
“We have received threats that the ANC will explode and the economy collapse if there are certain outcomes of conference. ANC has 105 years of experience, of meaningful contestation.”
He urged whoever loses at the conference to throw their support behind the winner and work together.
Meanwhile, it has emerged that the speaker of parliament, Baleka Mbete, one of Zuma’s staunchest supporters and one of the party’s presidential candidates, has thrown her weight behind Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Mbete told the media that her decision, which came as no surprise to many, was to ensure unity within the party and reorganise the ANC to win the general election in 2019.
She said she was not afraid of criticism for not supporting a female candidate.