THE African National Congress (ANC) has to shift gears following its national conference in Mangaung in December, President Jacob Zuma said on Friday at the conclusion of the ruling party's four-day policy conference in Midrand.

"After Mangaung we have got to change gears because our gears have been wobbling," Mr Zuma said to loud applause.

The conference had endorsed the need for a radical economic and transformation programme to dismantle the apartheid structure of the economy, he said. "The branches of the ANC in their wisdom have declared that we are in a continuing transition from apartheid colonialism to a national democratic society."

The conference rejected the notion of a "second transition" - a phrase that has become associated with Mr Zuma's reported bid for a second term as president - but endorsed the idea of a "second phase in the transition" to a state with political, economic and social freedom for all.

Mr Zuma said that although the ANC had had many successes in the past 18 years, the "challenges" of poverty, inequality and employment persisted.

One of the problems the country still faced was skewed ownership and management of the economy, and Mr Zuma said the conference had agreed that state intervention in the minerals and mining sector was "urgently required".

He made no mention, however, of a proposed super tax on mining.

"At the forefront of this intervention should be strengthening of the recently created state mining company by consolidating state mining assets into a single institution," the president said.

Delegates had resolved to establish a single police service integrating various municipal police departments under the control of the South African Police Service.

Delegates also resolved that "street committees should be established and controlled by the ANC", said Mr Zuma.

He also set out the principle of the separation of powers between the executive, legislature and judiciary. "The branches of the state are equal parties entrusted with distinct constitutional powers," he said. "No branch is superior to others."

LABOUR POLICY

The youth wage subsidy had been rejected during the talks, and Mr Zuma said proposals to address youth unemployment now included a tax credit to incentivise youth employment, the provision of training subsidies and a youth work-seekers' grant linked to skills development.

"All these proposals aim to bring new entrants into the workplace, while still protecting the jobs and conditions of existing workers," he said.

He called for a discussion on youth unemployment between the government, the private sector, youth organisations and labour, given the gravity of the situation.

In the lead-up to the conference there had been many calls to scrap the willing-buyer, willing-seller approach to land redistribution.

Mr Zuma said that this approach would be replaced but was vague on the details.

"The conference also affirmed the proposal to replace willing-buyer, willing-seller with the 'just and equitable' principle in the constitution, immediately where the state is acquiring land for land reform purposes," he said.

Later, land commission member Tina Joemat-Pettersson, who is also minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, told reporters this would not entail any change to the constitution.

Mr Zuma said it had been a landmark conference amid much speculation. "I've always said that people believe they know and understand the ANC and yet they always prove themselves less knowledgeable about the ANC," he said to loud cheers.

He did, however, take a swipe at party members who broke the rules.

"The conference emphatically condemned factionalism and agreed that political discipline is a necessary ingredient without which no organisation can achieve its goals," he said. "Members who are found guilty of wrongdoing in other institutions of society should also be subjected to internal disciplinary processes in line with the ANC code of conduct."

Mr Zuma said there should be no favouritism when it came to disciplining ANC members.

He said delegates also agreed that the party's leagues understood their role within the ANC, "in line with the purpose for which they were founded".

He said the leagues had to undergo compulsory political training conducted by the ANC.

Recommendations made at the policy conference will be taken back to ANC branches for further discussion and input, before being presented at the national conference in December, where they could be adopted to inform government legislation and policies.

SAPA