ANC del­e­gates

ELEC­TIVE Prov­inces vie in a num­bers game for ma­jor­ity mem­ber­ship to steer lead­er­ship votes their way

CityPress - - News - HLENGIWE NHLABATHI, S’THEMBILE CELE and SETUMO STONE news@city­press.co.za

ANC struc­tures around the coun­try have em­barked on an am­bi­tious cam­paign to boost num­bers ahead of next year’s na­tional elec­tive con­fer­ence. The con­fer­ence, set to take place in De­cem­ber 2017, will choose a suc­ces­sor to Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma and elect a new na­tional ex­ec­u­tive for the party.

De­spite the ANC’s ef­forts at manag­ing the suc­ces­sion process – in­clud­ing del­e­gat­ing se­nior lead­ers to ne­go­ti­ate with pro­vin­cial heads to en­sure an un­con­tested vote – some prov­inces are ea­ger to have the up­per hand in de­ter­min­ing the top lead­er­ship.

While lead­ers have de­nied this on record, in­sid­ers told City Press the plan was to en­sure that 60% of the con­fer­ence del­e­gates were con­sti­tuted from three key prov­inces – Mpumalanga, Free State and North West, whose lead­ers have been dubbed the Premier League for their shared loy­alty to Zuma – and the two Gaut­eng re­gions of Ekurhu­leni and Tsh­wane, which are sym­pa­thetic to him.

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, seen as be­ing the pres­i­dent’s pre­ferred suces­sor, has the sup­port of the Premier League and the aligned ANC women’s and youth leagues.

How­ever, the Premier League’s list has yet to be fi­nalised as the lobby group is be­lieved to be strug­gling to ac­com­mo­date the am­bi­tions of North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo and Free State Premier Ace Ma­gashule, who have their eyes on the in­flu­en­tial top six ex­ec­u­tive po­si­tions.

KwaZulu-Natal, cur­rently the big­gest prov­ince in terms of ANC mem­ber­ship, has set a tar­get of en­list­ing more than 300 000 mem­bers by next year – a fig­ure slightly lower than the 331 820 it had be­fore the 2012 con­fer­ence in Man­gaung.

The num­ber of mem­bers dropped dra­mat­i­cally af­ter that and by the midterm na­tional gen­eral coun­cil (NGC) in 2015, the prov­ince had just over 158 000 mem­bers.

KwaZulu-Natal spokesper­son Mdu­miseni Ntuli said mem­ber­ship ver­i­fi­ca­tion had not been done, but the ANC hoped the num­ber would grow to more than 300 000.

“The re­cruit­ment cam­paign is in line with a de­ci­sion ... to look into the state of our branches,” he said.

Mean­while, Mpumalanga is un­der­stood to be well on its way to clinch­ing a strong po­si­tion at next year’s na­tional elec­tive con­fer­ence.

Mpumalanga is al­leged to have set the fol­low­ing tar­gets for its four re­gional dis­tricts:

It aims to draw 148 000 mem­bers in Eh­lanzeni, of which 100 000 should be from the cap­i­tal, Mbombela; 75 000 from Bohla­bela; 182 000 from Nkan­gala; and 138 000 from Gert Sibande. Mpumalanga had 132 729 mem­bers in 2012, but this num­ber dropped to 96 799 in 2015. The prov­ince’s of­fi­cials want to reach 543 000 mem­bers.

These ef­forts are aimed at en­sur­ing two things: that a larger del­e­ga­tion of mem­bers from that prov­ince at­tends the 2017 con­fer­ence, and that Mpumalanga Premier and pro­vin­cial chair­per­son David Mabuza “steals the num­ber two spot” and be­comes deputy pres­i­dent.

“To se­cure this spot, Mpumalanga is man­u­fac­tur­ing mem­ber­ship, just like it did at [the pre­vi­ous con­fer­ence in] Man­gaung in 2012,” warned an ANC pro­vin­cial leader in Mpumalanga in a text mes­sage sent to lead­ers of Cosatu and the SA Com­mu­nist Party.

Mpumalanga spokesper­son Sasekani Manzini said the party had used the 2016 lo­cal gov­ern­ment cam­paign to en­cour­age ca­sual sup­port­ers to be­come card-car­ry­ing mem­bers.

He said the party ex­pected a large por­tion of the 692 383 peo­ple who voted for the ANC in the prov­ince to join the party. He de­nied that the re­cruit­ment drive was linked to the 2017 con­fer­ence.

“We con­demn with the con­tempt it de­serves any per­cep­tion sug­gest­ing that cer­tain prov­inces are on a re­cruit­ment drive to achieve a par­tic­u­lar out­come in the 2017 na­tional congress,” he said.

“If there is one thing we want to achieve in that congress, it is a united and stronger ANC.”

In his or­gan­i­sa­tional re­port to the ANC at the NGC last year, ANC sec­re­tary-gen­eral Gwede Man­tashe flagged the trend of mem­ber­ship num­bers spik­ing ahead of con­fer­ences and drop­ping after­wards.

At the same coun­cil meet­ing, Zuma shocked del­e­gates by say­ing ANC mem­ber­ship num­bers had dropped dra­mat­i­cally from more than 1 mil­lion in 2012 to 769 000, partly due to “gate keep­ing” and ma­nip­u­la­tion by branch lead­ers.

Statis­tics re­vealed then that the ANC had lost 430 130 pay­ing mem­bers since the Man­gaung con­fer­ence.

Gaut­eng spokesper­son Nkenke Kekana said a re­cruit­ment drive was un­der way, but he could not stip­u­late a tar­geted num­ber.

Free State spokesper­son Thabo Meeko said the prov­ince was do­ing an au­dit of its branches and was in no rush to set tar­gets. “We can­not panic just be­cause of next year. In due time we will re­lease the num­bers and it will not be a se­cret.”

North West sec­re­tary Dakota Le­goete avoided ques­tions about tar­gets, say­ing the ANC had not au­dited mem­ber­ship for the con­fer­ence and would not “thumb-suck” fig­ures.

Western Cape spokesper­son Jabu Mfusi said the prov­ince had taken a firm po­si­tion to re­build branches to pre­pare for re­gional gen­eral coun­cils and, ul­ti­mately, the pro­vin­cial gen­eral coun­cil.

“We are vig­or­ously work­ing on in­creas­ing our mem­ber­ship for ef­fec­tive rep­re­sen­ta­tion,” he said.

Num­bers were not im­por­tant for Lim­popo, which suf­fered a set­back as mem­ber­ship shrunk last year. Spokesper­son Khum­budzo Nt­shavheni said it was fo­cus­ing on qual­ity mem­ber­ship based on po­lit­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion, rather than on quan­tity of mem­bers.

PHOTO: LUCKY MORAJANE

CAM­PAIGN­ING ANC mem­bers at the Siyan­qoba rally at El­lis Park Sta­dium in July. Prov­inces are set­ting tar­gets ahead of the party’s 2017 con­fer­ence

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