A member serving in the higher structure of the African National Congress (ANC) will not be allowed to contest a position in the lower structure. Once a person has been elected to a higher structure he or she will have to relinquish a position in the lower structure.

That’s according to the newly amended constitution of the ANC.

The party’s National Conference held at Nasrec south of Johannesburg also emphasised the need for party structures to strengthen mechanisms in the organisation that will speedily deal with disputes to avoid members going to court to seek recourse.

The ANC conference has tightened the screws ensuring that party leaders elected to upper structures do not for convenience go down to lower structures to contest for positions. In March this year Andile Lungisa who was a member of the party’s Eastern Cape PEC defied directive from former Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe not to contest a position of Regional Chairperson in the Nelson Mandela Bay.

Lungisa pointed that there was no clause in the party’s constitution that prohibits him from contesting in a lower structure. Now the conference has made an amendment to the constitution to deal with similar issues.

Head of the ANC’s subcommittee on constitutional amendments, Dr Mathole Motshekga addressed a media briefing on the party’s constitutional amendment.

“Where a person holding a position in the lower structure but elected to a higher structure, that such a person should relinquish their positions in the lower structure. Or if you are in the higher structure you should not avail yourself for election in the lower structure.”

They also emphasised on the need for party structures on strengthening mechanism in the organisation that will speedily deal with disputes to avoid members running to court to seek recourse.  In some provinces including KwaZulu-Natal and Free State aggrieved members opted to take the party to court accusing the party of failing to address their concerns.

ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa says attending swiftly to complaints by party members will reduce instances where members resort to court for find recourse

“But what we seek to do is to create sufficient mechanisms internally without undermining the right of our members where they feel aggrieved that they can go out of the organisation. But let us not create that possibility; we must create mechanisms. For example we must deal with issues of gate keeping, because people could go to court because of gate-keeping. That’s why we say we must exhaust and create very elaborate mechanisms, internal mechanisms, to avoid further to find ourselves to have to be directed by courts on our failure.”

The conference ruled that the Integrity Commission derived its powers from the ANC NEC and therefore it is accountable to the ANC and therefore will make recommendations to the NEC.

In the run up to the conference some members felt the commission should be given more teeth and that its findings be binding.