THE African National Congress (ANC) wants 60% of its members in Parliament and the provincial legislatures to be sitting or former MPs and MPLs after the 2014 polls, to ensure "continuity and experience".
The party’s list process — to select members to represent the party in Parliament and the provincial legislatures — is well under way, with three provinces completing their lists over the weekend.
With many people predicting a fall in the ANC’s share of the vote, due in part to apathy and the emergence of new political parties, including the breakaway Economic Freedom Fighters led by former ANC youth leader Julius Malema, the pool of parliamentary and legislature seats open to ANC candidates looks set to dwindle, while competition for those spots is certain to intensify.
The ANC has tightened its guidelines for the list process in 2013, with strict instructions for branches to ensure that 60% or more should be sitting or former MPs and MPLs. It also wants to boost the level of professionalism of its representatives in government, saying that 33% should possess a particular "area of expertise" to deal with problems the government is facing.
"Thirty-three percent or more should have specific areas of expertise to deal with the challenges of government, especially in the priority areas of economic development, rural development, social development, safety and security, infrastructure development and/or technical areas like public finance or law," the guidelines state.
Candidates should have no criminal record and no history of involvement in "fostering divisions and conflict". They should not have a record of "ill-discipline and corruption".
The ANC in Gauteng scurried for cover over the weekend as reports emerged that it had ordered its structures not to nominate President Jacob Zuma in its national list to Parliament.
The province, which did not back Mr Zuma during the ANC’s Mangaung conference last year, has been fending off criticism over its stance on his leadership.
Fresh from a furore over comments by Gauteng provincial secretary David Makhura that former leaders such as Thabo Mbeki would be roped in to help the province win the sizeable middle-class vote, the ANC in Gauteng issued a statement denouncing rumours that it would snub Mr Zuma in its national list.
Gauteng’s provincial executive committee said on Saturday Mr Zuma was "nominated overwhelmingly by branches" in the province.
"There was never an instruction nor a mandate issued by the PEC (provincial executive committee) to marginalise the ANC president," the party’s Gauteng spokesman, Dumisa Ntuli, said at the weekend.
According to insiders, the real battle in Gauteng, and most other provinces, is over differences on who should succeed party deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe.
Mr Motlanthe was replaced as party deputy president in Mangaung last year by Cyril Ramaphosa.
KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and the Western Cape all held their provincial list conferences over the weekend.
Mpumalanga ANC secretary Lucky Ndinisa said delegates had wrapped up voting by late Sunday afternoon and the counting of the votes had started. "We are complying with the guidelines to retain the 60% but we are also bringing in new blood," he said.
Most national leaders currently in Parliament had made it onto the list, to retain knowledge about running government, he said.
South Africans can also expect a return of some old faces who were last seen in the government in 1994 and 1999.
"Not only those who are currently serving, but we also looked at those who served in 1994 and 1999 and we feel some individuals should make a comeback," he said.
The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal wrapped up its conference on Saturday. Provincial secretary Sihle Zikalala hailed it as a "great success", with 1,184 members representing 513 branches.
"What is significant is that this process is over, branches have been nominated and now we can focus on the (elections) campaign," he said.
Limpopo would hold its list conference in the second week of November. It is still attempting to hold regional conferences to prepare to elect a new provincial leadership in January.
North West postponed its list conference, which was scheduled to take place this weekend, as its branch audits had not yet been finalised. The gathering will now take place on November 1 and 2.
According to the guidelines for the list conferences, provinces will submit their top 200 names for Parliament. Ultimately, however, the national list of names will be placed in a pecking order for Cabinet posts by a national list committee and voted on at an upcoming national list conference in December.