THE ANC has sent out a strong warning to those harbouring ambitions of turning the national policy conference into a proxy leadership battle ahead of its national elective conference in December.
Secretary General Gwede Mantashe told reporters in Johannesburg on Thursday that offensive and divisive songs would not be tolerated.
This appears to be a preemptive strike against supporters of Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and those of Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who are expected to use the policy conference as a political battle ground in a bid to consolidate their power bases ahead of the national conference.
He said delegates were allowed to sing ‘old party songs about leaders’ but they would be on the lookout for new songs aimed at insulting some and campaigning for others.
“We are not confused about the songs. We know established songs of the movement and we will not temper with them but we will stop those intended for hurting the feelings of leaders,” he said.
Mantashe said it would not make sense to bar delegates from singing songs about President Jacob Zuma as that has been happening for many years.
“We sing songs about leaders of the ANC. We can’t out of the blue stop songs about the President. Those are songs that unify us but when you start a new song and campaigning, then those will have to be stopped. No one will be allowed to sing about Zizi [Kodwa] that will just be campaigning for him” said Mantashe.
He added that he expected the conference which starts at Nasrec, Johannesburg tomorrow to conclude without glitches, hinting that they were not anticipating any disruptions to sessions.
“We can’t expect disruptions at a meeting of the ANC. Those who want to disrupt might be disrupted themselves,” he said.
The majority of the sessions will be closed to the media with the exception of Zuma’s address on Friday.
Mantashe said the move was to ensure delegates could be honest and free enough to express their feelings about the organisation.
“With the closed sessions, we are allowing the ANC to tell itself the truth that is not nice. It allows the delegates to talk freely. We are protecting the organisation from itself through closed sessions, there is nothing untoward about that,” he said.
Zuma is expected to give an address during the opening session of the conference on Friday morning with Mantashe presenting the organisational report.
It will shine a spotlight on what the organisation sees as its problems and hindrances.
Meanwhile Zuma called on ANC members to put aside their political differences and rally behind the party. Addressing a gala dinner at Nasrec on Friday night, he said ANC members have a duty to rise above their differences and unite the party, adding a stronger ANC is good for the country.