ANC has a rocket in its KZN pocket

2011-09-17 18:30

ANC support in KwaZulu-Natal has rocketed, further boosting President Jacob Zuma’s support base ahead of the ruling party’s elective conference next year.

ANC membership in the country’s biggest and most populous province has shot up from 192 000 at the Durban national general council (NGC) held a year ago to 240 000.

The province saved the ANC from markedly losing its national slice of the electoral cake when it posted strong figures in the local government elections in May.

The province also played a key role in Zuma’s bid for the ANC presidency in the build-up to the party’s 2007 elective conference in Polokwane.

The figures were presented by ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe at this weekend’s national executive committee (NEC) meeting.

If the ANC reaches its target of recruiting one million members by the time it holds its elective conference in Mangaung, Free State, next year, this will mean that KwaZulu-Natal alone accounts for a quarter of the party’s entire membership.

Eastern Cape, the second-largest membership base, has also grown. The bad news is that ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema’s stronghold, Limpopo, has shed support. ANC membership in the province, which was about 102 000 at the NGC, is believed to have fallen by about 18 000.

However, ANC Limpopo spokesperson David Masondo would neither confirm nor deny the decline in membership, saying the auditing of figures was an internal issue.

Limpopo Premier Cassel Mathale, who is also the provincial chairperson, is on the ropes. He faces an elective conference in December and, this week, other candidates threw their hats into the ring.

Businessman Joe Mathebula has announced he will stand for the position of chairperson.

KwaZulu-Natal provincial secretary Sihle Zikalala attributed the growth in membership in the province to the ANC being able to access areas that were previously inaccessible (IFP strongholds), as well as the recruitment campaigns the provincial leadership had embarked upon.

A source who attended the NEC meeting said the Limpopo figures could still change if the province could submit more accurate information to prove that it has more members in good standing.

The source said: “One of the problems is that we have revamped our membership system. The process of verifying membership is still under way. If they are not happy, they will submit the required information to prove membership stats.

“In KwaZulu-Natal it (the growth) is because they have encroached into (previously) no-go areas like KwaNongoma.”

Another source who attended the meeting said: “We can attribute the decline to the fact that the membership on the ground is sending signals about the state of the ANC in that province (Limpopo).”

ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu confirmed that the NEC meeting had discussed the state of the organisation and its provinces, but refused to elaborate.

“When we have a press conference, we will say to you what the issues were that were reported by the secretary-general,” said Mthembu.

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