Mbombela - The Mpumalanga branch of the SA Communist Party (SACP) has accused Premier League provinces of flouting procurement procedures to raise money to boost their campaign in the national ANC elective conference.The party’s provincial executive committee (PEC) has called on Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane to investigate provincial government finances in Mpumalanga, the Free State and North West, following the outcome of the 2015/16 Auditor-General’s report that showed irregular expenditure in the provinces had escalated to R5.8 billion.The premiers of these provinces – David “DD” Mabuza (Mpumalanga), Ace Magashule (Free State) and Supra Mahumapelo (North West) – are allies of President Jacob Zuma and have allegedly joined forces to campaign for the election of a new ANC president and for national executive members who have a soft spot for the beleaguered president at the December conference.Irregular expenditureMpumalanga ANC provincial executive and ANC Youth League (ANCYL) president Collen Maine has already offered Mabuza the league’s support in his bid to become deputy president. African Union Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is tipped to become party president and the KwaZulu-Natal ANCYL has already publicly declared her as its preferred successor to her former husband. The SACP believes that the irregular expenditure – which Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu’s 2015/16 report highlighted - and which was a result of noncompliance with supply chain management procedures – was diverted towards the Premier League’s “factional agenda”.Mpumalanga’s irregular expenditure increased by R1bn from the previous financial year and was R3.9bn in 2015/16.The Free State saw an increase from R1.6bn to R1.9bn, while irregular expenditure in North West was R13.3m. Makwetu noted that 98% of the irregular expenditure was a direct result of uncompetitive or unfair procurement processes.This means that officials favoured certain bidders over others and bent procedures to award them tenders.Mpumalanga SACP secretary Bonakele Majuba said the behaviour of the Premier League had been “suspicious”, hence the PEC’s call for the investigation.“They have a lot of money that is used to fund conferences, whether they are ANCYL or ANC Women’s League. "Now, there is a decisive ANC conference coming up and these provinces are found by the Auditor-General to have incurred irregular expenditure. This can’t be a coincidence,” Majuba said.“Money politics is predominant in these provinces. They even transfer money to other provinces to influence conference outcomes."The Auditor-General’s findings must be further investigated because the money comes directly from the public coffers,” he said.Tantamount to corruptionMajuba said that the Premier League’s campaign to wrestle power was showing in Mpumalanga, where a massive recruitment drive had been undertaken. This drive aims to balloon membership to between 1 000 and 2 500 per branch. This will guarantee Mpumalanga thousands of delegates at the 2017 elective conference, which will be able to sway the outcome. City Press has seen a text message being circulated to business people in Emalahleni to make donations towards the recruitment drive.“They simply want a name and ID number of a person and they pay the membership fee. Where does the money come from?” Majuba said.Mpumalanga ANC secretary, Mandla Ndlovu, said the ANC would discuss the SACP’s concerns within the alliance structures. “It will be unfortunate if we have to respond through the media,” Ndlovu said. The Free State ANC secretary, Thabo Meeko, said his province was “disgusted” and “disappointed” by the SACP’s statement. “They give an impression that irregular expenditure is tantamount to corruption. Most of the irregular expenditure emanates from legacy issues which the province is correcting,” Meeko said.North West ANC secretary Dakota Legoete promised to respond but did not. And Majuba confirmed that the PEC had taken a resolution that the SACP should contest elections independently of the ANC in 2019.