The capture of ANC has been done solely to loot the state and government resources. It was not captured to serve the people of South Africa. This capture of ANC is carried out through the manipulation of the ANC’s internal electoral laws.
ANC national, provincial, regional and zonal elections are conducted through the format of the branch delegates conference. It is a process where one delegate is elected to represent 50 ANC members of the branch according to rule 10.1.1.1 of the ANC constitution. Fifty ANC members is the minimum that can constitute a branch.
The contest – and conflict – is initially about who is going to be the delegate of the branch to the respective elective conference. Branches are required to hold a branch general meeting of members in good standing. Members in good standing are verified by the branch secretary through payment of subscriptions. In some cases they used to require members to produce membership cards which had to be eked out from the secretary general’s office, since without the card you were not allowed to vote or to be voted for.
The first tactic leading to capture of the party is gate-keeping as a method of excluding your rivals from participating in elective conferences. Membership cards were initially used for gate-keeping, with some people staying as members of a branch without getting their cards despite having paid their subscription. After serious contestation about membership cards, they were later discarded as the criterion for identification of members in good standing. The custodian of the list of members in good standing is the branch secretary, with endorsement from the secretary general’s office.
The branch secretary’s list of members had to be counterchecked with the list from the secretary general’s office. If you were not wanted by the reigning slate, you would find your name or surname misspelled in this list. Since your name in the secretary general’s office is then different from your ID name, the deployee from the region presiding over the branch general meeting would declare that you could not vote or be voted for. Only the secretary general’s office could then clarify the matter, knowing that on a Saturday there is nobody in the office. So you end up participating as an observer in the branch general meetings, without the right to vote or to be voted for.
In some cases there would be fly-by-night branches established on construction sites for contract workers working at a particular project. The contract managers would fill in application forms for their employees and would pay their subscription fees. The contract workers would then be ANC members, and elect their bosses as delegates to attend elective conferences based on the promise of continued employment. These are called “members of members” of the ANC and their sole loyalty is to their contract owner and employer, not the ANC.
In some cases there would be parallel branches in the same area, the bogus branch and the legitimate one, with bogus branch delegates going to the elective conference and the legitimate branch delegates sidelined.
In some branches, comrades take the legal route to challenge these methods of gate-keeping. This was the case in 2012, when Mpho Ramakatsa and five other ANC members successfully took the elections for the provincial executive committee (PEC) in the Free State to the Constitutional Court.
Other methods of gate-keeping include the calling of branch general meetings at night without informing all branch members, with the sole purpose of excluding them. In some cases, bogus branch meetings were called and the attendance register would include members who were deceased to make up the quorum. It was after such blatant gate-keeping and vote rigging that comrades started to take ANC conference elections to court.
The comrades in the Free State – the birthplace of the ANC – must be commended for taking this up consistently.
The Free State PEC elections in 2012 had many irregularities. Led by Ace Magashule, the Free State PEC was not allowed to be accredited for the Mangaung elective conference because of the court judgment, and its members participated in the Mangaung elective conference only as branch delegates instead of as PEC members.
The same scenario was repeated in 2017, when the Free State provincial elective conference was again challenged in court. Once again, the Free State PEC was declared illegitimate by the court. Its members could not participate in the Nasrec national elective conference as per the rules, and participated as ordinary branch delegates.
The Nasrec elective conference produced what is called the “unity slate”, meaning a combination of the Jacob Zuma and Cyril Ramaphosa slates as conceived by subsequent Deputy President David Mabuza. The unity slate was meant to have 50/50 between the two slates, hence Ramaphosa as president and Zuma’s supporter Magashule as ANC secretary general.
Nasrec and its unity slate were not good for the ANC nor the country. Immediately after the Nasrec elections, as the secretary general and power-holder in Luthuli House, Magashule declared “It is only five years, comrades!”, meaning they would then restore the ANC of Zuma again. On the other hand, Ramaphosa is talking about renewal of the ANC. The secretary general and the president are fighting for different objectives, and as such there has so far been very little progress in terms of renewing the ANC.
It is important to acknowledge that Magashule was elected secretary general despite having run two illegitimate Free State ANC provincial conferences. In 2018 there was another unlawful and illegitimate ANC provincial elective conference in Free State which elected Sam Mashinini as chair of the PEC. Free State comrades Matshepo Ramakatsa, Themba Mvandaba and Shashapa Motaung again went to the Supreme Court of Appeal, and this conference was also declared unlawful. From the top down, the Free State ANC provincial leadership has been consistent in trampling on the ANC constitution. And again and again, the Free State ANC rank and file members have been resilient and successful in taking the matter to court, fighting corruption and vote-rigging.
Campaign managers starts their preparations by buying votes. Some delegates will be visited at their homes, to be courted for their support by the candidates of various slates. These delegates are given money by the respective campaign managers. In some cases they are promised jobs such as being a councillor, a member of the mayoral committee or provincial minister, or their companies are promised tenders. Mandates from the branches are thrown out of the window when the punters come in. Every elective conference is used profitably by unscrupulous delegates, who promise several campaign managers that they will vote for their respective candidates. At the Nasrec national elective conference, some delegates got money from more than one campaign manager, while shrewd delegates got money from four or five campaign managers, promising to vote for each of their respective candidates. At the end it is only the delegates who know who they voted for. This is vote-rigging on a grand scale.
With ANC elections based on one delegate representing 50 ANC members, 2% of ANC members elect national leaders on behalf of 98% of ANC members left at home. The punters and campaign managers bribe the 2% delegates to override and control the 98% of ANC members left at home, and ultimately to control the state. This is the mechanism of party capture.
The time for one delegate voting for 50 people is over. Instead, every ANC member must cast the vote for themselves.
One ANC Member One Vote means that 100% of members will vote for ANC leaders directly, from the president to the deputy president, national chairperson, secretary general, deputy secretary and treasurer general. We assume there is nobody with enough money to bribe the entire ANC membership, estimated to be between 800,000 and 1.2 million.
Delegates are supposed to be members of ANC with impeccable integrity. But in the last four national elective conferences, most delegates have proved to be untrustworthy, crooks and, in some cases, outright thugs. It is time for all ANC members to directly elect their leaders for themselves and not delegate or assign anybody to do that on their behalf.
It is time for One ANC Member One Vote for electing leaders – from the president to the branch chairperson.
Let ANC members decide, not the delegates.
Omry Makgoale is an ANC rank and file member. These are his personal views.
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