Gwede Mantashe has defended the decision to include ANC branches deemed not to be in good standing in the final audit report.
The decision was made by the party's national auditing team
With two months to go until the ANC's crucial national elective conference in Mangaung, some party members have accused supporters of ANC president Jacob Zuma of colluding with ANC auditors to inflate membership figures, particularly in Mpumalanga, the Free State and KwaZulu-Natal.
Mantashe rejected <a href="http://mg.co.za/article/2012-10-12-00-fake-members-boost-jacob-zuma" target="_blank">the allegations published</a> in the Mail & Guardian last week that more than 2000 ghost members in the Bohlabela region of Mpumalanga were added to the final audit, which Luthuli House conducted in August. He suggested that members who wanted to damage Zuma's integrity ahead of the conference were spreading the allegations.
Mantashe also criticised those who raised concerns about the sudden rise of membership figures. He said the biggest membership growth in the ANC was experienced in the Free State (47%), followed by Limpopo (29%) and then KwaZulu-Natal (26%).
When he was confronted about the inclusion of a branch in ward 9a in Bohlabela, whose secretary, Pay Mashego, confirmed to the M&G it was not in good standing, Mantashe said there was nothing wrong with that because the branch was one of many parallel structures that had been included in the final audit.
He said the ANC's national executive committee agreed to give all the parallel structures an opportunity to sort out their problems and decided that they all had to be integrated into the existing branch structures.
Mpumalanga ANC secretary Lucky Ndinisa contradicted Mantashe.
"We don't have parallel structures in the province, except to divide two or three structures in one ward," said Ndinisa. "That is not a parallel structure."
Of the 444 branches in Mpuma-langa, 408 are in good standing, according to Ndinisa.
A senior ANC leader in Gauteng rejected Mantashe's justification for why some branches that were not in good standing were included in the final audit.
"We cannot accommodate branches whose term has expired," said the leader, who did not want to be identified.
"What it means is that the branch doesn't even have proper signatures. They can't even prove membership. There are similar branches in Gauteng, which have been disqualified on the same basis. Where is fairness there?
ANC is dysfunctional
"There is a lot of rigging going on here. You have parallel structures in the Free State, North West and Eastern Cape. The leadership is un-able to resolve this problem, because they have vested interests. The ANC is dysfunctional."
Mantashe said the ANC's national auditing team would conduct another round of audits before the national conference in December to check that the branch general meetings and branch annual general meetings had taken place.
Meanwhile, the M&G understands that some of the more than 30 branches from the eThekwini region in KwaZulu-Natal that were found not to be in good standing have still not held their annual general meetings. A source said "some of these branches were told not to elect leadership, but to just elect delegates because there will be contestation that will lead to more rivalry and problems. But then how can your branch be in good standing if your leadership's term has ended?"
There are also concerns about the auditing of branch figures, with several ANC members saying they were sceptical, in some instances, of branch membership figures that were audited and the good standing thereof.
Some members believed that the true proof of standing would be in the ability of branches to quorate in the run-up to Mangaung.