The African National Congress planned to consult widely when drawing up its manifesto for next year’s elections, ANC deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe said on Wednesday.

“Consistent with our tradition of inclusivity and participation, the ANC will consult with a range of sectors and interest groups in formulating its election manifesto,” Motlanthe said at the Afrikaanse Handelsinstituut’s congress at Sun City.

He told delegates the party accepted there might be areas of “deep concern” among various sections of society — some which were “problems of perception” and other which were “genuine”.

“We should not sweep such matters under the carpet. We need to engage in meaningful discussion on all matters of concern or interest.”

He said the party understood concerns about the impact of politics on the business community and believed that through the Progressive Business Forum (PBF), which was established in January 2006, the party and the business sector could talk. He paid tribute to the AHI, for moving into the future “unencumbered by the baggage of the past”.

Last weekend the party hosted a summit of sectoral and civil society organisations under the umbrella of the mass democratic movement to mobilise South Africans for social and economic transformation.

It is seeking to develop a common platform to reach its goals of poverty alleviation and improved health care and education. Participants in this did not have to owe their allegiance to the ANC, he said.

He said the ANC’s policy decisions may confuse an outsider, but explained that it took about 18 months of consultation to formulate and could not be dictated by a single person.

“To those who may be unfamiliar with these processes, the conference in Polokwane may have been unnerving. But to others it was simply an example of the vigorous and vibrant practice of democracy within the ANC.

“And no matter how heated the contest may have seemed in the run-up to Polokwane, once the membership had made their decisions, all within the movement accepted those decisions.” Mothlante said.