President Jacob Zuma’s supporters have claimed victory after what have been described as heated policy debates on Monday on the expropriation of land and free higher education.
Several sources have told News24 that Zuma and those associated with him – and by extension, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s presidential campaign – were on a “war path” at the policy conference.
They clashed with Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa’s backers in the economic transformation commission and pushed through the policy proposal to have land expropriated without compensation.
Senior ANC leaders Enoch Godongwana, the head of economic transformation sub-committee, and ANC MPs Pravin Gordhan and Derek Hanekom were outnumbered in a room full of Zuma allies.
They were up against ANC Youth League president Collen Maine, the league’s secretary general Njabulo Nzuza and KwaZulu-Natal provincial secretary Thanduxolo Sabelo. Former leaders of the league Andile Lungisa and Ekurhuleni Mayor Mzwandile Masina were also part of the battle against the seniors.
Sources told News24 that Hanekom, the former tourism minister, became emotional during a heated debate on the expropriation of land without compensation. He is said to have sharply disagreed with reviewing the current land policy, describing the proposed changes as “nonsense.”
“Hanekom was attacked when he stood up and said it was all nonsense and they all went for him as a pack,” said the source, who was in the economic transformation commission. He was also facing threats of disciplinary action.
According to one insider, Tshwane ANC Youth League chairperson Lesego Makhubela accused Hanekom of being one of the most “ill-disciplined” members of the party. He is said to have insisted that Hanekom be stopped from “competing with Donald Trump on Twitter”.
Another source backing Ramaphosa confirmed the incident. He said Hanekom was “insulted” while presenting his argument that land expropriation without compensation is not going to work.
“In that process he lost it as they kept interjecting him and he told them what they are arguing about is nonsense,” he said.
Hanekom is said to have apologised, following the intervention of the head of the economic transformation committee, Godongwana, but his opponents were adamant he should face disciplinary action.
News24 could not reach Hanekom for comment before publication.
On Monday afternoon, Zamani Saul, Northern Cape chairperson and supporter of Ramaphosa, however was still confident that their proposals would win the day. He told News24 that the debates at the same commission were robust, with some areas of convergence and disagreements, especially on expropriation of land and racially defining white monopoly capital.
The province is opposing the expropriation of land without compensation and is in agreement with Gauteng against racially defining monopoly capital. Instead Zamani said the focus should be on “radical implementation of existing policies”.
He said land was still a contentious issue in the commission, with some within the party misinterpreting section 25 of the Constitution.
“They say it’s about the right to property but it is actually an expropriation clause which tells how government should go about expropriating land and says it should not be in an arbitrary way, it should be just and equitable …it’s already an instrument in the hands of ANC but because of lack capacity we have not implemented it,” Saul said.
He said instead of changing policy, the party should be talking “radical policy implementation”.
“There are certain areas of weaknesses in implementation of policy,” Saul said.
Gordhan called a ‘representative of white monopoly capital’
Another former minister who faced the wrath of the Zuma supporters was Pravin Gordhan, who, like Hanekom, was axed by Zuma during his controversial midnight Cabinet reshuffle.
Gordhan is said to have been attacked by Sabelo, who openly called him a “representative of white monopoly capital”. He was also quizzed on the CIEX report that recommended that Absa bank must pay back the “lifeboat” loan given to Bankorp that it later bought.
“We took everything, we dealt with them,” a happy Zuma supporter told News24.
Zuma supporters are said to have come prepared, with speaking notes. They are pushing hard for the conference to adopt variety of what they call radical policies, including:
- Expropriation of land without compensation, accompanied with a proposal that land claims be backdated to 1913;
- State ownership and control of the Reserve Bank;
- Engage the Competition Commission to increase penalties that are levied against companies found guilty of price fixing and collusion;
- Reaffirm that the primary enemy of the people and revolution is white monopoly capital;
- Raise ownership of mines to 51%, not 30% as the current disputed charter proposes;
- Establishment of a state bank which will act as a resource bank for black people.
Meanwhile, in the education commission the Youth League is said to have threatened to shut down the country if the ANC does not implement free higher education by 2018.
The policy conference is seen as a proxy battle ahead of the December elective conference. Discussions are set to continue on Tuesday with final debate expected at the plenary in the afternoon when chairs of commissions report back on deliberations.