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ANC wants its NEC to have powers to hire and fire public representatives

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ANC wants its NEC to have powers to hire and fire public representatives

13th December 2017

By: News24Wire

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The African National Congress (ANC) wants its national executive committee (NEC) to have powers to recall its deployees in all spheres of government.

This is contained in a document written by the party's constitutional affairs subcommittee ahead of the party's upcoming 54th national conference this weekend.

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The section dealing with the powers of the NEC proposes a new rule that reads: "Appoint and disappoint (sic) all public representatives at national, provincial and local levels in government and the performance of such public representatives."

Member of the party's legislature and governance subcommittee Andries Nel, said the proposal would only deal with elected public representatives and not officials in the public service or other state institutions.

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He said the committee had identified a failure by government officials to implement ANC policy.

The committee has also proposed a review of its cadre development policy that covers Cabinet ministers, members of Parliament and local government councillors to ensure they have "the requisite capacity to fulfil their mandate".

"We are saying the ANC should put in place systems to monitor and evaluate the performance of those elected public representatives and provide them with support and, where necessary, to remove them if they are not living up to the trust and expectations of the people who put them there," Nel said.

Legal challenges

However, analysts say the provision is seen as a response to President Jacob Zuma's errant removal of Cabinet ministers and will be in conflict with the country's Constitution as it gives the president the powers to hire and fire ministers, while members of Parliament, provincial legislatures and local government can only be removed if they resign or cease to be a member of that party.

Political analyst Melanie Verwoerd said the implementation of the proposal would pose legal challenges.

"They don't explain how they would do it. As much as they would love to, they can't do it as [the] Constitution protects those members of Parliament so that their stay in Parliament is not dependent on the whim of the party," Verwoerd said.

"As far as Cabinet is concerned – the powers to hire and fire ministers rest with the president and they can't override the powers of the president as they are [in the] Constitution," she said.

The amendments to the party's constitution would have to be approved by two thirds of the delegates attending the conference that gets underway on Saturday.

The ANC top six has come into conflict with Zuma, who has repeatedly reshuffled his Cabinet without consulting them or the alliance partners.

Zuma fired finance minister Pravin Gordhan and his deputy Mcebisi Jonas in March and then South African Communist Party general secretary Blade Nzimande as higher education minister in October.

In 2015, he fired then finance minister Nhlanhla Nene and appointed a lesser known Des Van Rooyen to replace him. However, his stay in the position only lasted the weekend as Zuma was pressurised to reverse the appointment.

The other proposed constitutional amendments include:

  • Changing the number of NEC members to 60 or retaining the current 80;
  • Increasing the top six to eight – adding another deputy president and deputy secretary-general who will be at Luthuli House full time;
  • Retaining the national working committee (NWC), but ensuring that 50% of its members are not in Cabinet, or doing away with the NWC and replacing it with a committee or secretariat made up of officials and five other full-time members directly elected by the NEC members;
  • A proposal to give the integrity commission more teeth and resources as currently, it can only make recommendations to the NEC, which has powers to throw the recommendations out;
  • A proposal to appoint the electoral commission immediately after the policy conference and have it be constituted by a representative from the provincial structures and the leagues "to ensure buy in". The current constitution provides for the appointment of the electoral commission close to the conference;
  • Appointing a national dispute resolution committee and appeals committee as standing committees to deal with disputes that arise before and after elective conferences to counter the repeated court challenges. The party admits that while refusal to accept the outcome of elections promotes disputes, some complaints may be genuine and failure to deal with them leads to court challenges and creates "the perception of a fragmented organisation and could lead to breakaways";
  • A proposal that the veterans' league remains, or a council of elders who advise the ANC with no interest in positions is created;A proposal to have a supporters' card for branch members who support the ANC during elections but are not full-time members. Supporters' cards would allow holders to participate in branch meetings but not to vote.

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