NUMSA commemorates the 100 year anniversary of the Russian Revolution

Cosatu 8th National Congress: Congress on the SA electoral system

30 September 2003, Posted in News

Debate flowed on the third day of the Congress as Num proposed a review of the current electoral system. The resolution sought to introduce a 65% constituency based system combined with 35% proportional representation. It also wanted to call for a change in the current method of appointing mayors and premiers, where a select team of senior ANC members in the deployment committee appoint mayors and premiers. Num preferred a situation where the provincial chairperson of the ANC automatically becomes the premier of the province. Num and the like-minded Cosatu affiliates believe that the current practice undermines democracy. Num was quick to allay the fears of other affiliates by clarifying that the rationale behind revisiting the appointments of the provincial premiers and metropolitan mayors is not to challenge the powers of the ANC, but to promote democracy. Despite Num’s explanation, Samwu felt strongly that it is the right of the ruling party to appoint individuals that will serve as mayors and provincial premiers. “The method of appointing mayors and premiers is a matter of internal ANC policy, therefore it is not for Cosatu or any other organisation to prescribe the method of appointing mayors and premiers”, argued Samwu. Motivating their resolution, Num pointed out that the proposed resolution should be seen in its entirety in order for its potential benefits to become clearer to congress. Addressing congress during the debate, Num General Secretary, Gwede Mantashe, informed congress that the resolution in its original form was meant to introduce the element of obligating parliamentarians to report back to constituencies. Mantashe argued strongly that as much as the top structures of the ANC can appoint the president of the country, the provincial and local structures of the ANC have the potential to make the correct decisions in respect of appointing premiers and mayors. Therefore it makes good sense to review the current arrangement within the ruling party to appoint premiers and mayors. However Num and other affiliates that agreed with the proposed resolution on the electoral system still had to contend with Fawu. It also felt that the ANC is an autonomous organisation, therefore it would be inappropriate for Cosatu to resolve on an ANC internal policy matter. Ceppawu conferred with the Samwu and Fawu positions in the debate. Ceppawu was particularly concerned with the stipulation of a percentage in the proposed resolution. However Num highlighted that the percentage was merely a percentage that is designed to establish a principle as a basis for debate within the alliance. In mediating the opposing points of view and taking the debate forward, Numsa supported the resolution with a slight amendment. Numsa suggested that all alliance partners should rather share the task of appointing premiers and mayors. Numsa General Secretary Silumko Nondwangu, also reminded congress not to lose sight of the ongoing review of the South African electoral system. Though Numsa’s input served to appease those affiliates sceptical of parts of Num’s resolution, it could not satisfy Samwu’s discomfort. The leader of the tri-partite alliance, the ANC Secretary General, finally resolved the points of difference by proposing that the resolution be broken into two resolutions. One would deal with the electoral system and the other with the accountability of the public representatives. The resolution was eventually adopted by congress with minor changes in the wording, and an addition of the new resolution on public representatives’ accountability.