The ANC in the Eastern Cape which lost the Nelson Mandela Metro to the DA in recent local government elections has lost more than 50% of its membership in five years.
The numbers have plummeted from 225 000 in 2012 to 105 000 as at February 2017‚ according to the party’s preliminary audit.
ANC provincial secretary Oscar Mabuyane blamed the drop on membership rigging‚ and said the picture may improve by June as the party’s national executive committee‚ which met last weekend‚ had ordered all provinces to deal “harshly with gatekeepers”.
He described gatekeeping as a tendency by either regional secretaries or organisers and branch secretaries to destroy or hide the membership information of those they viewed as supporting rival factions during audit processes.
Mabuyane said one reason behind the decline were branches with fewer than 100 people. In the Alfred Nzo region where the membership audit was finalised last week, 10 branches were left out as they had fewer than 100 members.
The ANC constitution dictates that for a branch to be declared in good standing it must have more than 100 members.
The region is due to elect its new leaders in May, meaning the 10 branches would be left out of this process.
“Preliminary audits suggest that we have 105000 members – a huge drop if you compare to our numbers three years ago when we had just over 225000 members,” said Mabuyane.
ANC membership costs R20 a year.
“What we have noticed is that some branch secretaries fail to do their job of reminding members to renew their memberships on time as a result some membership lapse. This is done intentionally in cases where a member has a different view on leadership preferences to the secretaries.”
These developments come on the eve of yet another watershed elective provincial conference scheduled for July.
Early indications are that Mabuyane is likely to contest Phumulo Masualle as provincial chairman, while three names are in the hat for the secretary position.
These include Nelson Mandela Metro’s Andile Lungisa, ANC Youth League’s Mziwonke Ndabeni, as well as OR Tambo’s Lulama Ngcukayithobi.
Mabuyane said auditors were now busy in OR Tambo, verifying membership.
“Auditors are likely to move to Joe Gqabi, thereafter Chris Hani, Amathole, Dr WB Rubusana (Buffalo City), Sarah Baartman and last in line Nelson Mandela Metro.”
Once the auditors have finished and branches in good standing identified, a roadmap on when branches can nominate their leadership preferences will be outlined.
Mabuyane said the planning towards the conference would be done so that there “is a two weeks cooling off period after the BGMs and the conference”.
“We want to eliminate cases in which branches sit the day before the conference, a situation which is unacceptable for conference preparations.”