KZN boosts ANC’s Zumafication

2012-09-29 20:40

While the focus has been on national politics, President Jacob Zuma’s lieutenants have been quietly rounding up their army for Mangaung.

And final ANC membership figures before its elective congress in Mangaung in December show how successful they have been.

The figures show that in three of the provinces in which his support is strongest – KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Free State – the number of foot soldiers has risen dramatically since January, and make up 48% of the ANC’s1.2 million members.
Although the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) could not agree at a marathon meeting on Friday on a statistical formula to allocate delegates, the figures indicate Zuma could be safe.

Smaller provinces like Western Cape, which is anti-Zuma, want the formula to favour them because they say big provinces like KwaZulu-Natal benefit from their size.

Membership in Zuma’s home province and his strongest support base, KwaZulu-Natal, has shot up by almost 88 000 members to 331 820 in just eight months.

It is Zuma’s heartland and reinforced power base – a strong indication of his role as KwaZulu-Natal’s most powerful political figure, ahead of the man who traditionally ruled the roost there, IFP boss Mangosuthu Buthelezi.

The membership in Eastern Cape, which is considered to be a presidential Achilles’ heel, dropped by almost 40 000 to 187 585.
Although Friday’s NEC meeting ran six hours over time, a pro-Zuma NEC member denied tensions.

“We had to break into commissions to discuss the formula (to allocate delegates),” he said.

The debate in the NEC was about what formula to apply to the remaining 416 places, after the 3 864 branches in good standing were each allocated a delegate.

Other than branches, the ANC youth, women’s and veterans leagues all send delegates, while the full nine provincial executive committees and the NEC also attend.

Meanwhile, a preliminary list circulated via SMS by sources from inside the meeting on Friday night said delegates were so far allocated as follows: KwaZulu-Natal 983, Eastern Cape 556, Limpopo 537, Gauteng 476, Mpumalanga 408, Free State 359, North West 223, Northern Cape 170, Western Cape 152, the leagues 45 each, provincial leaders 225 and the NEC 82.

On Friday night, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said the growth in KwaZulu-Natal was because of “a lot of organisation-building”.

He said the province, with 11 regions, had previously been under-represented in the ANC.

“So the membership is beginning to reflect the actual size in provinces of the ANC,” he said.

Mantashe said the decline in Eastern Cape, with eight regions, was due to “serious underlying organisational problems”.

The province has always been an ANC stronghold, although the party’s hold there has waned in the past five years.

ANC KwaZulu-Natal secretary Sihle Zikalala explained the boom.

“We have recruited people continuously and focused on renewing existing members so that their memberships do not expire,’’ he said.

In a report presented to an NEC meeting two weeks ago, Mantashe admitted party administration was weak.

He said “record-keeping at regional and branch level (is) the biggest headache,” and that it had an impacton membership audits.

Meanwhile, ANC branches can nominate candidates for election to the party’s NEC from tomorrow until the end of November.

In the past week, ANC leaders have started speaking out about the leadership debate, although only the ANC Youth League has so far openly declared names.

On Wednesday night, the league’s deputy president Ronald Lamola said they wanted Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe to stand for president, and Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula for secretary-general.

They are still deciding whether to nominate ANC treasurer-general Mathews Phosa or Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale as deputy president.

– Additional reporting by Paddy Harper

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