Rise in ANC members in KZN a major boost for Zuma

The increase of ANC members in KwaZulu-Natal will help boost President Jacob Zuma's campaign for a second term, says political author William Gumede.

"His [Zuma] campaign has been to consolidate support in KwaZulu-Natal and then try get some small pockets of support elsewhere," Gumede said.

"It will help his campaign and be a boost."

On Friday, the ANC's national executive committee (NEC) announced that KwaZulu-Natal's membership had grown by 90 000 between January and September this year.

This was after the party had concluded its branch audits and officially opened the nomination debate for new leadership which will be elected in Mangaung in December.

KwaZulu-Natal is the ANC's biggest province and Zuma's home turf.

Gumede said the growth in the province could be attributed to the decline of the Inkhata Freedom Party (IFP).

"Former IFP members have joined the ANC because Zuma is there."

It was part of Zuma's campaign to get Zulu speakers to support his presidency.

"The problem [with this] is that they may support Zuma and not the ANC," said Gumede.

"Potentially if Zuma is not there they might leave the ANC."

Cohesive communities
Gumede said from a long-term point of view for the party and the country this was not a good thing and it raised red flags.

"We don't want anybody to mobilise support based on one ethnic group. The country needs the kind of leadership that can mobilise support across all ethnic groups," he said.

This was a weakness in South Africa's democracy that could be exploited and to focus on a single community was dangerous.

"This undermines South Africa's attempt to build cohesive communities, diverse communities and one identity," said Gumede.

The focus on just one ethnic group was not sustainable for long-term voting.

Gumede said it was possible that if 90% or more of KwaZulu-Natal voted for Zuma in December he would have the presidency "in the bag".

However, this would make governing the party and even the country very difficult.

"If you only win one region… it means when you govern there is going to be opposition all the time from within the ANC. The presidency will be locked in a paralysis," said Gumede.

South Africa needed action and accelerated delivery. If this was the scenario government would not be able to assist public service, he said.

About 4 500 of the 1.2-million ANC members were expected to attend the elective congress in December.

The party has said 3687 branches would be represented.

The breakdown of the number of delegates sent to Mangaung is worked out with a formula and would be announced on Tuesday. – Sapa

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