‘Nothing sinister behind boost’

2012-10-04 00:00

THERE was nothing sinister about the dramatic increase in KZN ANC membership. It was due to a concerted membership drive and hard work, the party’s provincial secretary Sihle Zikalala told the media yesterday.

Zikalala was reacting to suspicions around “ballooning KZN ANC figures”.

Business Day yesterday said the signing up of almost 87 000 members since the beginning of the year raised eyebrows and suspicions of gerrymandering, allegedly meant to boost President Jacob Zuma’s re-election chances.

Zikalala said since October last year, they embarked on an intensive mass recruitment campaign using volunteers on the ground to recruit new members and encourage older ones to renew their membership with the intention of reaching 350 000 members by June 2012.

They managed over 331 000. This represented an increase of 87 000 increase in membership from just over 252 000 members.

Business Day pointed out that at the KZN ANC conference in May, the party said it had 252 637 members. It asked how this figure jumped to 331 821 by June 15, the cut off date for the national audit.

However, ANC spokesperson Bongani Mthembu said the figures released in May were from a March 2012 audit. “Our drive never stopped, it was ongoing,” he added. Mthembu said when the province announced it was going on a recruitment drive last year it did so after a lengthy planning process. “We had a provincial organiser, 11 regional organisers and 10 recruitment volunteers per voting district,” he added.

According to Mthembu, the audit team from the ANC headquarters were very thorough, going through membership forms, dates as well as receipts and other documentation.

“If there was anything wrong they would have picked it up”, Mthembu added.

At the ANC press briefing yesterday, Zikalala spoke on a range of issues.

He denied media reports that fired police commissioner Bheki Cele was running a campaign against Zuma.

Zikalala said some KZN branches had indicated they would be nominating Cele to be in the ANC National Executive Committee (NEC). “We indicated that we’ve got no problem,” he said.

Zikalala added that he had been to various branches with Cele and saw no evidence of him conducting any campaigns.

In an apparent swipe at Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, without mentioning him by name, Zikalala said some leaders had disowned party decisions publicly and through biographies.

A report on Motlanthe’s soon-to-be-released biography apparently has the deputy president saying that the ANC should not have dismissed former ANC Youth League (ANCYL) leader Julius Malema from the party.

The ousted ANCYL leader wants Motlanthe to stand for the ANC presidency.

Zikalala found time to praise Zuma, saying he abandoned an important international meeting to return to deal with the crisis in Marikana in August.

He said other ANC leaders should have visited the area before Zuma did.

KZN will send the largest number of delegates to Mangaung in December, with 974 branch delegates elected by the party’s 828 branches in the province.

Zikalala said the growth of the party in the province did not mean they would use it to dominate other provinces.

“This will not make us arrogant, we plan to use our power [number of delegates] to unite the party,” he said.

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