South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC) has acknowledged that it is increasingly losing the trust of South Africans and must urgently act to restore public confidence.

This is contained in a Policy Discussion Document on Organisational Renewal which was launched Sunday at a meeting at ANC headquarters, Luthuli House, here Sunday. The documents raise issues for debate by party structures and society at large, ahead of the ANC’s Policy Conference in June.

ANC Policy Head Jeff Radebe said the party must act urgently to restore its moral character. “The document recognizes that the ANC is increasingly losing trust of the people as illustrated by the declining electoral performance and intense public criticism,” he added.

“The organization must act urgently to restore its moral character to win back the trust of the people and to ensure that the ANC is structured optimally for being the leader of the multi forces of change.”

The party has also identified access to financial resources as one of the key challenges facing radical economic transformation of South Africa. The document dealing with Economic Transformation proposes measures to reduce unemployment, increase black ownership and control of the economy and return land to the people.

The head of the party’s Sub-Committee for Economic Transformation, Enoch Godongwana, raised these issues at the launch of the document, saying access to finance is an issue that society must confront head on.

“Both for small and medium enterprise, I want to put that … and for black economic empowerment in general, if we want to make this radical transformation and transfer assets to black people, there must be money available for these changes that are, unfortunately, black people have been deprived of assets, so they have nothing to utilize to transform,” he noted.

“So, someone has to step up to the place. Who that is, I don’t know. It is a matter for discussion. Small and medium enterprises (SMEs), if they don’t have access to finance, (then) we are dreaming.”

One of the proposals contained in the ANC Policy Discussion Document on Organizational Renewal is that the number of members sitting on the ANC’s National Executive Committee (NEC) — the top party organ between national conferences — should be reduced to ensure that the party’s most capable members are also available to do work throughout society.

The document puts forward a number of interventions aimed at stemming the party’s electoral decline and winning back the confidence of the public. It also proposed that the ANC Presidency be strengthened to enable it to drive the National Development Plan as well as resource allocation and implementation.

Radebe said the rationale behind the proposal would not hamper the functions of other planning forums already in existence.