It’s Winner Takes All In ANC Branches & If All Fails, Destroy The Branch

By Pinky Khoabane


Chairs fly at a provincial elective conference

IN a crowded ANC Regional Office on the day membership audits were taking place, a scuffle broke out between a branch secretary and the regional membership officers – a fight which later included members of that branch hurling punches at each other and threats to burn each other’s cars. A woman was slapped and it was said some branch members had gone so far as to kidnap her in a previous incident that took place at the branch. Such is the acrimonious relationship of comrades these days that the word comrade – which signified close bonds of friendship among a group of people, so strong in fact that comrades were willing to die for each other – has become a farce.

At issue was the membership files of the branch which it was said, were removed by the deputy secretary from the “safe room” where they were being kept. In one fell swoop the deputy secretary had removed hundreds of membership forms belonging to a faction he didn’t belong to leaving names of those he knew would vote for his preferred candidates in the leadership contestation at the ANC National Conference in December.

Stories of membership forms disappearing from files or not being submitted into regional offices to be captured abound in the ANC. This old political party, 105 years this year, uses the most archaic system in registering membership, leaving it open for abuse by its leadership. Membership is still captured manually – you complete a form, go into the bank and have it stamped, and hand over the form to a representative of the branch.

Such is the power of those who handle membership – generally the branch secretary and his/her deputy – but in some cases the chairpersons of branches also get involved – that they can decided which members will be registered or not. Some of the members are simply ghost members – names thumb sucked with false addresses and submitted to make-up the numbers that determine if a branch qualifies to be classified a branch. It takes only 100 members to qualify as a branch but for power mongers who want full control of their branches, it is easier to have “ghosts” and the rest the not so literate people that can easily be manipulated.

In the past week, the audited lists of members who stand a chance to represent branches at the national conference were released. And lo and behold, even there – after audits – membership forms have been removed from files and names of members have been removed from the lists. These are members who threaten the preferred outcome of the leadership in branches or it is simply a means of settling scores with those with whom the leadership disagrees on issues.

Even at this stage the system is open to human manipulation – the audited membership forms are placed in envelopes and sealed. Anybody with a nefarious agenda can simply open it, replace the names in there with other membership forms or simply remove those he/she doesn’t want.

Such is the desperation to win and brazen thuggery that when all the manipulation of the membership fails, leaders resort to simply removing the entire branch file and collapsing the branch. A branch chairperson was heard telling some of his executive team that he “had lots of money and would disband the branch”. UnCensored has seen the SMS. And his branch’s file mysteriously went missing from the “safe room” where it was kept. These stories of branches whose membership files have gone missing abound but it is the helplessness of the victims that accompanies them that pulls at the heart strings.

Just days ago a member from Lejweleputswa in the Free State posted pictures of a bleeding branch co-ordinator who had been stabbed by the chairperson of the branch during a Branch General Meeting (BGM) over differing views on the names to be put forward as the next leadership of the ANC.

Coupled with this crassness in attitude is the lack of will to hold anybody accountable. We’ve seen the disruptions at conferences where those who don’t get their preferred outcome hackle, disrupt and ultimately collapse the conference. It’s the attitude that says I only must win and if not, no one else will. I am yet to hear of any disciplinary hearings into those who conduct themselves this way. There are also no responses to complaints of lost membership.

The ANC is faced with the challenge of modernising its membership and electoral systems in the face of massive illiteracy among its loyal members. But given that these are also the same people who vote in the country’s local and national elections, there should be a way in which this old party gets onto the electronic world and cut-out the sharks that have captured the movement for their personal and financial agenda.

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  1. In most cases I have been told of meetings only an hour or so before they commence. I am not sure whether it is due to mischief or poor administrative practices or , simply put , utter contempt and disrespect for poor comrades like myself. In those instances where I have managed to attend , we normally had to wait for a few hours for BEC members and deployees to arrive.
    In so far as voting rights are concerned , I have in the past been called in at short notice to help vote for some. From now on moving forward , I shall refuse to be used by selfish individuals for their narrow personal interests . I am a long-serving cadre of the ANC ( having joined the organisation at the age of 14 ) and will not allow those who seek to pursue their personal interests to use me as their door mat.

    1. Branches are a problem, they are more about power struggles for individuals,

      Soon you will be a Veteran my Cde!

      The only right we have is to vote on general elections!

  2. The Administration of membership which is so achaic is nothing but Gwede Mantashe’s legacy as the CEO of Luthuli House.

    Many commentators and some ANC leaders are talking about ANC support decline which they so love to blame on Jacob Zuma forgetting that the ANC itself makes it difficult to become a member.

    It is so easy for a camel to go through an eye of the needle than to join the ANC in some branches.

    1. Some members had to wait for almost 6 months before they could be “welcomed” by the BEC which never attended meetings during that time. I had an alarming number of complaints on Twitter on this issue – I will pay you R10 if the ANC will heed any of those complaints. When you heard ANC members in court bemoaning the number of times they’ve written to regions, provinces, SG and no response and opted for court as the only remedy, you realise that Gwede Mantashe has failed the ANC terrible and yet he’s still on slates which say he will help with “organisational renewal”. What a laugh!

    2. You are sooo correct!

      Am a member of this movement at heart & not by membership card that disappear when convinient.

      This has been a problem for a while & will continue til an electronic system in intruduced.

      Its a shame & a sham!how we seem to have lost that Comradeship that once bounded us!

  3. ya neh!! they all want to put their hands in single Jar, voter’s education should be schedule before 2019 ELections to stop nonsense majority black vote,It makes no different to ZANU-PF

  4. This is a well-written analysis of current manual system; and a proposal to implement an electronic system will go a long way in minimising such deficiencies. Yes, we do have a challenge with illiterate ones but perhaps we can develop a more simplified form.

    It is just unfortunate that the ANC in its ranks has support/ perhaps is still supported by people who have big IT firms (Robert Gumede and his Gijima Empire comes to mind. There ae many like him). The next SG must make it his/ her priority to pilot such electronic system

    A quick browse at the DA’s site, one is met with such a well-designed platform. . They, too, might be struggling with other membership challenges but ours (Am a card-carrying member of ANC) are huge.

    How difficult can this be. Am sure even a junior tech can develop an online from like this one. Is it not possible for one of these big firms whose owners are members of the ruling party donate some resources to make this happen?

    Please share this post with the ANC’s Luthuli house. Or rather keep it for incoming officials ( Ace or someone). If conference doesn’t go ahead, pass to uncle Gweezy and Cde Jessie..

    Most of these challenges with our conferences where membership is in dispute could be minimised.

    1. I certainly will do Mbula. I listened to Febe at the Policy Conference speak of an electronic voting system and thought how soon people can be up there and forget the basics – the archaic membership system must be electronic first before even thinking of voting. All the manipulation happens at membership stage….

  5. My name still does not appear on the electronic database at both regional and national levels , this years after I joined my branch in Ekurhuleni. Nor do I have an ANC membership card . I am yet to get a satisfactory explanation for this state of affairs .

    1. WHat is happening at branches is most shocking. So Cde Greg, what does this mean for your voting rights as a member?

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