THE ANC has moved to do some damage control, emphasising yesterday that the policy document mooted by President Jacob Zuma was "broadly” supported by its members but that its title would be changed.
The "second transition” document, which topped the agenda at the party’s national policy conference this week, is believed by some members to have been Zuma’s campaign card for re-election at Mangaung in December.
But ANC national leaders yesterday told the media the document, which referred to the "second phase” of South Africa’s transition, had nothing to do with Mangaung.
The initial version of the document defined the country’s last 18 years as the first transition, focused on building a functioning government, while the next two decades, it said, would be the second transition which would accelerate economic transformation.
"It is extremely mischievous to associate this document of the ANC with the second term of the president,” ANC NEC member Tony Yengeni told reporters yesterday.
"Those people who continue to associate the document with the second term are mischievous.”
Earlier in the day, two groups of ANC members confronted each other singing songs supporting Zuma and others, including Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, who is expected to challenge Zuma in Mangaung.
The pro-Motlanthe group sang songs, making hand gestures usually made by soccer fans when calling for a player to be substituted. Those who support Zuma’s re-election held up two fingers, indicating a call for a second term, as they sang songs praising the president.
NEC member Jeff Radebe insisted the ANC was not divided.
"There are no Zuma supporters or Kgalema supporters. Members support the ANC,” Radebe said, refuting yesterday’s media reports that the document was rejected by members.
But several ANC members told The Herald the name of the document and some of its concepts were rejected. "We do not know why they are telling the media that. They do not want to accept defeat,” one member said.
ANC national spokesman Jackson Mthembu said: "If we tell you that there was consensus from members about this document, then there was. That is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”