ANC branch audits 'must be beyond reproach'
"The ANC leadership must make sure there is not a whiff of suspicion around the way the branches have been audited and the way decisions were made," said political author William Gumede.
"[It] must be beyond reproach. Once there is suspicion ... it will undermine the ANC electoral process in December," he said.
On Friday, the ANC opened its nomination process for the leadership contest in Mangaung in December after concluding its branch membership audits.
Political analyst Steven Friedman said there needed to be an auditing process that the African National Congress members were comfortable with.
"You have to ensure that your process is credible ... if you look at national elections it's seen to be plausible because all parties have a say," he said.
"But if you have a situation where the person who signs off on the numbers has a stake in the leadership ... it is impossible to have an auditing process which people would feel comfortable with."
He said the danger of this was that if some members were unhappy they could turn to the courts—which the party frowned upon.
"If they do [go to court] what will the consequence be ... you could have some interesting issues."
Gumede said if some branches were "unsatisfied" with the numbers it could cause more tension in the ANC.
ANC spokesperson Keith Khoza said the nomination process had been endorsed by the national executive committee (NEC) on Friday and the nomination process was opened.
"It is necessary that the process must unfold ... Members can now nominate for all the leadership positions in all the provinces and the nomination process ends in November."
Khoza said 631 branches were disqualified because they did not meet the criteria and were "not in good standing". Therefore they would not send any representatives to Mangaung.
According to reports, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said the membership of the ruling party had increased to 1 220 057.
Increase in KZN
In KwaZulu-Natal, the ANC's biggest province and President Jacob Zuma's home turf, membership had increased by about 90 000 between January and September this year. It now had 331 820 members.
On the other hand in the Eastern Cape, the party's second biggest province, membership had decreased significantly to 187 585.
Gumede said the increase in KwaZulu-Natal's membership could work in Zuma's favour.
Zuma will be running for a second term as ANC president. However, the ANC Youth League and some of the party's branches were calling for a leadership change.
Gumede said: "KwaZulu-Natal is so big and if Zuma gets 90% of the vote [in the province], he has it in the bag."
Friedman said he could not say whether this would ensure Zuma won a second term but it was plausible.
Gumede said the numbers clearly reflected the trends from the last national elections, when the ANC lost support in all the provinces except KwaZulu-Natal.
About two decades ago, the Eastern Cape was the ANC's biggest province.
"Motlanthe and [Tokyo] Sexwale have been focusing to get the Eastern Cape behind them but clearly a declining Eastern Cape won't help their case," said Gumede.
Those in the party calling for leadership change want Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe to be the ANC's president.
The ANC's succession debate and nomination of candidates was only meant to open in October.
Khoza said the opening of the nomination process meant that ANC members, branches and provinces could now openly speak about who they want to lead the party for the next five years.
About 4 500 of the 1,2-million ANC members were expected to attend the elective congress in December. All 3 687 branches would be represented.
The breakdown of the number of delegates that would be sent to Mangaung had been worked out with a formula that would be announced on Tuesday, Khoza said. - Sapa