ANC calls for new democracy deal

Nelson Mandela's African National Congress declared it was "more united than ever" after its five-day national conference which backed the government's conservative economic policies and called for a new constitution enshrining "ordinary democrat ic majority rule".

The meeting urged the government to take quick measures to improve living standards for the black majority and to restructure the Afrikaner-dominated civil service so that it could push through reforms quickly. "We reaffirm the liberation of black peoplein general and the Africans in particular as the main content of our national democratic revolution," a conference resolution said.

The call for the replacement of the interim constitution, which expires in five years, would be tempered, said Justice Minister Dullah Omar, by the ANC's acceptance that "we will have to work within the provisions of the constitutional principles" adopt e d at the World Trade Centre negotiations last year. "Until we transform state machinery as a whole into a loyal instrument of democracy, transfer of power to the people will not be complete."

The ANC's 49th congress, held at the University of the Orange Free State in Bloemfontein, a bastion of white conservatism, was marked by support for economic policies, such as budget cutbacks and privatisation, that once would have been an anathema to ANC allies in the Communist Party and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu). Proceeds from sales of state assets should go to reducing the government debt, rather than to fund current expenditure, the meeting decided.

The conference was also critical of the party's performance in leading the government of national unity seven months after sweeping the country's first all-race elections in April.

While the conference had confounded "prophets of doom" who predicted that delegates would criticise party leaders for forgetting their constituents, President Mandela said that the cabinet should remember the saying that "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely".

"We need fresh blood," Mr Mandela said after elections to the ANC's National Executive Committee (NEC). "One problem is that some people have an instinctive resistance to this. Some of us feel threatened by the prospect of being challenged. We cannot survive if we do not change. Some comrades do not welcome opposition and tend to sideline and even slander comrades with an independent view," Mr Mandela said.

An attempt by Mr Mandela to set up a committee to draw up a recommended list of NEC candidates, designed party officials said to ensure proper gender, regional and racial representation, was stillborn amid opposition among the 3,000 party delegates.

Four of the party's top officials, including Mr Mandela, the deputy president, Thabo Mbeki, and Cyril Ramaphosa, the secretary general, won their election unopposed, There were few surprises in the elections for the 60-member NEC. Mr Mandela's estranged wife, Winnie, the Women's League president and Arts, Culture, Science and Technology Deputy Minister, came in fifth with 1,802 votes. Mrs Mandela was linked to a new scandal at the weekend, as press reports alleged her involvement in a scheme to buy diamonds from President Jose Eduardo dos Santos of Angola. Nevertheless, delegates broke into frenzied applause as Mrs Mandela and the president embraced.

Mr Mandela also criticised the party for mismanagement of funds and said it undermined its attacks on the corruption of the former white minority rulers.Some estimates put the ANC's party debt at £13m.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Field Engineer

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company has 30 years of ex...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Account Manager

£27000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing cloud based I...

Ashdown Group: Product Marketing Manager - Software & Services

£35000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Product Marketing Manager...

Recruitment Genius: Exhibition Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An expanding B2B exhibition and...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat