As the ANC gets ready to hold its 53rd national conference in Mangaung next month to discuss substantive policy positions and elect leaders who will lead it into its next century, several questions arise about the ideological and political fertility of this glorious national liberation movement and whether it is able to change for the better.
Among the many questions the conference will reflect on is an issue to which most political and media analysts have not paid close attention – the general meeting of the ANC branch of which President Jacob Zuma is a member.
One of the Sunday newspapers ran a rare but precise reflection of what happened at the meeting of the branch in ward 10 in Nkandla in KwaZulu-Natal and stated the following undisputed facts:
- The branch took more than nine hours to achieve a quorum of 50% plus one of its total membership of less than 500; and
- The quorum happened on paper – most members, including Zuma, were not at the meeting.
Read with many other aspects and developments in and around Nkandla, this tells a bigger and clearer story than what is apparent at first glance. It is a fact that the ANC has never won a local government election or a voting-district election in the ward. In both the 2006 and 2011 general elections, a majority of the people in Nkandla rejected the ANC.
This means that a majority of the people of Nkandla do not approve of the ANC leadership of their community and ward.
The ANC has less than 500 members in the ward, some of whom might not be aware that they are indeed members of the ANC and most of whom do not really care or are too busy to bother with what policy decisions or leadership should be elected at Mangaung.
It was also reported that no headcount was done of members who had arrived earlier than others and who left before the meeting was formally ended, which means that what is referred to as a "signature campaign" had taken place in terms of the ANC's audit processes.
It cannot be correct that a meeting is considered to have reached a quorum because of the number of signatures collected.
A quorum, for the ANC and other organisations, is determined by the required minimum number of people present when the meeting starts. That is why, on many occasions, members have had to wait for other members to arrive before a meeting begins – not just sign an attendance register and leave.
Issues such as whether branches are able to reach proper quorums is one of the many queries branches and members of the ANC will take to the leadership before the national conference. They will do so because of the allegation that the membership of the ANC was inflated in KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and the Free State, therefore making it impossible for branches to reach a legitimate quorum. It is impossible to reach a quorum at a meeting if people who are said to be members of the ANC are not aware that they are members or, worse, do not live in the wards where they are said to be members, or have even died.
For ward 10 in Nkandla – where millions of rands are destined to be spent on development – to take nine hours to reach a quorum speaks volumes. It means that the people of that ward do not have confidence in Zuma and are not smitten with the massive developments that will benefit only one family.
Zuma has consistently failed to inspire his own community to vote for the ANC and this shows in the manner in which the ward 10 branch general meeting was run. He fails to inspire the confidence of ANC members in his own branch. His own people are rejecting him, even after he has spent millions on "development" there.
Our people are not fools. They are not tricked into blind loyalty. This will be revealed in Mangaung, because the only way for Zuma to be re-elected will be through the legitimisation of "parallel branches", the endorsement of branch general meetings that did not reach quorum, and by raping legitimate constitutional processes and guidelines on how branches should be constituted before the elective conference.
This is in glaring contrast to what Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe did as secretary general of the ANC at the 52nd national conference in Polokwane. The credentials process he led ended in the disqualification of more than 150 delegates from Gauteng, despite the fact that the delegates came from branches that supported him and were going to vote for him as deputy president of the ANC.
The ANC's processes and organisational management are being eroded because some leaders feel entitled to positions and are using their occupation of office to manipulate the movement. Members and branches of the ANC must expose these wrongdoings – as the many branches and members have begun to do in Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal. The ANC must be protected.
Floyd Shivambu is a member of the economic freedom fighter campaign