Mail and Guardian

ANC members have claimed that auditors padded the figures for provinces crucial to Jacob Zuma’s party presidency re-election campaign.

ANC members aligned to the anti-Zuma group in ­Mpumalanga have accused provincial and regional party leaders of colluding with its auditors to inflate membership figures in a bid to boost Zuma’s re-election prospects.

Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State are expected to be central to Zuma’s re-election at the party’s national elective conference in Mangaung in December. These provinces have recorded a significant increase in membership over the past few months. In addition Mpumalanga, there have also been complaints about alleged attempts to manipulate membership in KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State.

On Thursday, a disgruntled group of ANC members went to court to seek an interdict on the re-election of Free State ANC provincial chairperson Ace Magashule and his executive committee. The new executive was elected during the disputed provincial conference held in Parys a few months ago.

If the disputes over the allocation of delegates are not settled in time, the national conference could be bogged down by fights over accreditation.

According to internal ANC documents that aggrieved members provided to the Mail & Guardian this week, more than 2 000 ghost members in Bohlabela region in Mpumalanga were added to the final audit report, which Luthuli House conducted in August.

One of the key complaints is the apparent discrepancy between the preliminary audit report and the final audit report – both of which were conducted within a month. The documents show that the auditors added 100 members to almost all of the 30 branches in Bohlabela in the final audit report.

Good standing
For example, a branch in ward 9a – which was not judged to be in good standing – was included in the final audit report, which was submitted to the ANC’s national executive committee meeting last month.

Pay Mashego, the branch secretary in ward 9a, confirmed this week that his branch was not in good standing. “I can confirm to you that our branch has lapsed. We have been dysfunctional since April this year. We are waiting for the region to give us the go-ahead to launch our branch again  before we go to Mangaung,” said Mashego, who was clearly unaware that the auditors from Luthuli House had declared his branch to be in good standing.

Preliminary audit reports are subject to queries. In the case of the Bohlabela region, ANC members have questioned why nearly all the branches had a similar addition of 100 members.

“If during the preliminary audit they could not find the 100 members, where do these members come from suddenly in a space of a month? You can ask any member of the ANC – it is not easy to recruit 100 members in a space of a month,” said an ANC member, who asked not to be named for fear of being victimised.

Aggrieved ANC members claimed that officials in all four regions in Mpumalanga were instructed to capture forms that had not been signed or were without stamps from the bank, which serves as proof that members had paid their annual membership fees of R12.

According to ANC sources, the branches that were allowed to inflate members were those that supported a second term for Zuma. In cases where branches struggled to get 100 names, regional leaders instructed administrators to obtain names from other branches in the region.

ANC members also claimed that leaders in Nkomazi, a subregion in Ehlanzeni, paid thousands of rands in membership fees for ghost members. Ehlanzeni, which incorporates Nelspruit, is home to Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza, a staunch supporter of Zuma.

ANC members in the province said the sudden increase in membership in Nkomazi over the past few months surprised them.

“The average membership in the area is 1 300 per branch. The municipality alone has 39 000 members. Leaders believe that, for every 100 members you are entitled to send two delegates to Mangaung.

“They pumped in R600 000 to pay for membership. Nkomazi alone is bigger than the Northern Cape and Western Cape. They are bigger than some regions in Mpumalanga. It is now second after eThekwini (Durban). Only God knows how they recruited the new members,” said an ANC member.

“People are no longer interested in meetings of the ANC, unless you talk about service delivery. If you call an ordinary meeting of the ANC, people hardly attend. Because many branches cannot quorate, regional leaders at times forge signatures. They sign for people who did not attend – a week before the branch general meeting, where nominations for those who will attend the conference in Mangaung are made. By the time you go to the branch general meeting, the attendance register has long been signed. When Luthuli House auditors come, they find signatures when, in fact, less than 10% of members attended.” Read more…