JOHANNESBURG, Factionalism in the African National Congress (ANC) continues to cost the South African ruling party voter support, says ANC President Jacob Zuma.

“The movement has lost many talented comrades due to slate politics, a terrible manifestation of perennial factionalism. We cannot stay with permanent factions and tensions within the ANC. There is consensus that our movement can no longer afford to reject leaders who are preferred by a significant number of members to lead,” he said here Wednesday.

Addressing the ANC National Policy Conference which ended its six-day meeting here Wednesday, he also branded monopoly capital as a major adversary for black socio-economic advancement. This was despite the decision by the majority of delegates at the conference to reject calls to adopt a phrase “White Monopoly Capital” to denounce white dominance of the country’s economy.

More than 3,500 ANC delegates attended the conference which saw long hours of tough deliberations on policy issues, which sometimes lasted through the night. As expected the concept of whether or not to adopt the concept of “white monopoly capital” dominated discussions at the sessions of the commission on Economic Transformation.

The concept has been used as a catchword and a proxy for leadership battles by those advocating for radical economic transformation. At the end, delegates agreed that whilst they cannot deny the existence of monopoly capital, the concept should not be attached to any race and used as a tool to alienate the white-controlled business sector.

Delivering his closing address to the ANC’s National Policy Conference, President Zuma nonetheless referred to monopoly capital as a “strategic enemy”.

“In this regard it is correct to talk of White Monopoly Capital. It is also important to lay the emphasis that it is Monopoly Capital that is the primary adversary of the collective interests of our people regardless of colour. We must not allow ourselves to be divided on the basis of grand theory.”

Meanwhile, Zuma has called for a consensus on the election of his successor to lead the ruling party. Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is also deputy party president, and former African Union Commission Chairperson Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, have emerged as front-runners to take over at the helm of the party’s leadership.

The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal Province is strongly advocating that both opposing camps enter negotiations to avoid a bruising leadership battle which could further split the party. President Zuma proposed an amendment to the ANC constitution so that the losing candidate should be accommodated, possibly as deputy president of the ANC.

“This will make sure that both factions will come together. We will move away from the fight against those who have won. Its a destructive system. If we put them together they will work together.”

The President also lamented that factionalism continues to cost the party its voter support, insisting that the practice often led to the marginalisation of valuable members and leaders.

“The experiences of our past conferences have taught us that the factionalism-driven winner takes all attitude is not in the best interest of the ANC. The movement has lost many talented comrades due to slate politics, a terrible manifestation perennial factionalism.”

President Zuma concluded by praising delegates for the way in which they conducted themselves during the policy conference debates. “You have conducted yourselves very well. The discipline was felt. You were engaging on issues. The discussions were about content, you enriched the debate.”

All policy proposals will now be taken to the ANC’s branches to be debated further before being adopted at the party’s December leadership election conference.