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S.Africa’s ruling ANC agrees on new direction paper

South Africa’s ruling ANC on Thursday agreed a document to overhaul apartheid-era patterns that still hound the country’s economy 18 years after all-race democracy.

Party delegates met in closed session this week combing through the discussion document – now dubbed “second phase of the transition” calling for a radical social and economic transformation.

“As a conference we have reached consensus on his important document,” African National Congress spokesman Jackson Mthembu told reporters.

Justice Minister and party policy head Jeff Radebe added “all commissions have accepted the content and the thrust of the document”.

Delegates behind closed doors combed through the discussion document that calls for a social and economic transformation over the next 30 to 50 years that builds on the democracy that ended white-minority rule.

The ANC argues that its democracy’s gains are threatened by a jobs crisis, deep poverty and extreme social inequality that still reflect apartheid-era divisions when power was held by the white minority.

“We need a radical change in policy,” said Pheobe Potgieter, a member of the party’s national executive council.

The policy suggestions will be considered at the ANC national elective conference in December when the party holds internal polls to pick a candidates for the next presidential election will emerge.

Among the key areas being examined at the talks are the mining sector, with an eye on the state’s role, the ailing education and health sectors, as well as the sensitive and struggling land reform programme.

Agriculture Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson earlier told the SAFM state-owned radio that ANC wants to use its right to seize land, with compensation, ending a policy of only buying land from willing sellers which it argues has been costly and too slow at correcting one of apartheid’s worst ills.

The four-day conference wraps up on Friday.

The party will hold its leadership election in December for which President Jacob Zuma is considered the frontrunner despite some internal rumblings.