A day by day guide through the ANC conference

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA – JULY 01: President Jacob Zuma, his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa, Baleka Mbete and Zweli Mkhize during the African National Congress (ANC) 5th national policy conference at the Nasrec Expo Centre on July 01, 2017 in Johannesburg, South Africa. The conference is a gathering of about 3500 delegates from branches across the country to discuss the party’s policies going into the elective conference in December, where changes and new policies will be ratified. (Photo by Gallo Images / City Press / Muntu Vilakazi)

While the official agenda for the ANC’s 54th national conference will only be made known at the start of the conference, this is how events are likely to unfold.

Before the conference: Friday, 15 December:

This is the last day before the conference officially starts and everything should now be in place from a logistics point of view. Delegates and guests will start to arrive at the Nasrec Expo Centre in Johannesburg to register.

On Friday evening, an official gala dinner organised by the ANC’s Progressive Business Forum takes place. It will be mainly the top ANC brass attending the dinner, where they will rub shoulders with business leaders and foreign diplomats. At the national conference in Mangaung in 2012, News24 reported that mining magnate Patrice Motsepe paid R500 000 for a table to sit with President Jacob Zuma.

This is also the last day for media and service providers to pick up their accreditation so they can report from inside the conference venue.

Day 1: Saturday, 16 December

The first day of the conference is also the most important day. The plenary session is customarily opened with interfaith prayers and the singing of the national anthem. President Jacob Zuma will then deliver his welcome address and political report.

Secretary-general Gwede Mantashe will then likely read his organisational report and the credentials report, which details how many voting delegates there are from each province. This is expected to be disputed by the various candidates, as there have long been rumours of corruption in the branches in some provinces, where numbers have been inflated and could obviously affect the outcome of the election.

Day 2: Sunday, 17 December

The debate around the credentials report could continue into Sunday. As soon as it is concluded, or perhaps even before, housekeeping issues may be brought up, such as conference rules, etc.

The matter of whether the ANC should have two deputy presidents, as suggested by Zuma during the ANC’s national policy conference in June, will also have to be concluded before the delegates start with the voting procedure.

The nominations process will then start. Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma have been nominated by the provinces and their names will already be on the ballot. Any branch delegate can nominate a person from the floor but at least 25% of delegates have to second these nominations. Only then will their names go on the ballot. This might be presidential hopeful Zweli Mkhize’s last chance to get on the ballot.

After the nominations are in, the voting for the position of president will start. All voting will take place in secret in voting booths. The new president will be announced after all the votes have been counted, after which delegates will vote for the position of deputy president, chairperson, treasurer-general, etc. The voting and announcements could go on until Monday, depending on how long the process takes.

Day 3: Monday, 18 December

Any outstanding results from the voting process will likely be announced on Monday, including the new members of the national executive committee (NEC).

The rest of the conference is mainly reserved for commissions who meet for policy discussions on issues that include international relations, the ANC’s radical socio-economic transformation agenda and higher education. The commissions will be attended by the branch delegates, but also by non-voting delegates.

Day 4: Tuesday, 19 December

Resolutions will be adopted on policy issues after the commissions reported back during closed plenary sessions. The resolutions will then be communicated to the media at press conferences.

Day 5: Wednesday, 20 December

The commissions will continue reporting back and communicating decisions to the media. Finally, the conference will be closed by the new president of the ANC.

(Photo credit: Gallo Images / City Press / Muntu Vilakazi)