By Siphe Macanda and Olebogeng Molatlhwa
Newly elected ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa is on Wednesday expected to deliver his first official address as the party’s leader when he closes the fiercely contested 54th national conference.
Ramaphosa is likely to use his first speech as the governing party’s leader to call for unity within the ANC following a divisive leadership battle that drove relations with alliance partners SACP and Cosatu to an all-time low.
Ramaphosa emerged as the party’s new president on Monday after defeating ANC MP Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
The conference has not been without drama. On Saturday it was delayed by hours as delegates differed on the adoption of the credentials report‚ which detailed who had voting rights‚ among other things.
The conference was plagued by another delay on Tuesday and Wednesday following a dispute over the election outcome for the position of secretary-general‚ which was won by Free State leader Magashule ahead of Senzo Mchunu from KwaZulul-Natal. The ANC conference steering committee was expected to table a resolution to resolve the matter before the plenary on Wednesday.
Supporters of Ramaphosa believe that the 68 disputed votes could tilt the results in favour of their preferred SG candidate Mchunu after the elections agency admitted that the ballots had not been counted on Monday.
ANC North West chairman Supra Mahumapelo‚ an ally of Magashule‚ has threatened to collapse the conference if there is a recount for the SG position. He also said‚ should a recount be called‚ he would demand the same for all the other positions in the top six.
The conference is also expected to receive reports from closed commissions‚ where delegates are expected to make various policy proposals. These would cover policy areas like economic development‚ legislature and governance‚ organisational renewal‚ social transformation‚ education and health.
The newly elected National Executive Committee of the ANC‚ its highest decision-making body between conferences‚ is also due to be announced.