The 55th ANC National Conference: explained in less than 700 words

Every five years – just over a year before the national elections – the ruling African National Congress (ANC) gathers for its national conference. The 55th National Conference will take place from December 16 to 20 2022 at the Johannesburg Expo Centre in Gauteng. 


How to become the president of the ANC

So what is the conference all about?

The conference will elect the party’s 80-member National Executive Committee (NEC) and its so-called Top Six leaders, including the president. The NEC is the highest organ of the ANC between National Conferences and has the authority to lead the organisation. This election of the top six is very important. This is because the person elected president of the party becomes the presumptive party presidential candidate for the national elections. But things don’t just start during the conference. There are months and months of other conferences, meetings and discussions that lead up to the main conference. 


South African politics needs better campaign ideas

What are the rules of the elections?

The rules for the election of the National Executive Committee (NEC) and Top Six were devised by a committee chaired by former ANC and national president Kgalema Motlanthe. The rules which were published in August 2022 made some major changes to the ANC’s internal election procedures. Amongst the changes in the rules is that they prohibit ANC members from standing for top leadership positions if they have been charged with or found guilty of “unethical or immoral conduct, or any serious crime, or corruption”. All campaigns also need to submit  a full financial record for inspection by the party’s internal Electoral Committee.

With regards to the election of the Top Six, there have been several changes and it will proceed in two stages. The party’s Top Six is made up of the president, secretary-general, national chairperson, treasurer-general, deputy president and deputy secretary-general. The first four will be elected in the first ballot. The last two will be elected in the second after the results of the first ballot have been announced. This is meant to complicate the system of slate campaigning where previously unsuccessful candidates would stand in the second ballot. As always, the NEC elections will be subject to a gender quota – requiring 40 of its 80 members to be women. 

How does voting take place?

There will be around 450 voting delegates attending the conference. The voting delegates will be from the branches, the NEC, Leagues and provincial executive committees (PECs). The ANC’s fellow tripartite alliance members Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the South African Communist Party (SACP) will participate as non-voting participants. Part of the process leading up the national conference are provincial conferences. During the provincial conferences, the provincial branches vote for their provincial leadership. They also nominate their preferred candidates for the leadership positions in the Top Six. This takes place within the branches. Each province sends a number of delegates to the conference. KwaZulu Natal is set to have the highest number of candidates at the conference. 

Who are the candidates? 

The current main runners for the president of the party are the current president Cyril Ramaphosa and former health minister Zweli Mhkize. On November 22, the Electoral Committee announced the consolidated nominations list for the Top Six positions. This list will appear on the ballot paper at the conference. However, there might be some candidates who withdraw and new candidates may be nominated from the floor of the conference.  President Candidates: Cyril RamaphosaZweli MkhizeDeputy President Candidates:Paul MashatileRonald LamolaNational Chairperson Candidates:  Stanley MathabathaGwede Mantashe David Masondo Secretary General Candidates:Mdumiseni NtuliPhumalo MasualleFikile Mbalula

Deputy Secretary General Candidates:

Nomvula Mokonyane

Febe Potgieter-Gqubule

Treasurer General Candidates:

Bejani Chauke

Pule Mabe

Mzwandile Masina


Another important part of the conference is that the party will discuss and pass various policies. In May, the party held their national policy conference where a discussion document was produced. At the conference, the party will decide on certain policies which they will support or want to pass. Depending on the national government elections, these policies might become the policies of the country. Featured image via Flickr