Smaller provinces the saving grace for ANC membership

Gwede Mantashe at the ANC's national general council. (Oupa Nkosi, MG)

Gwede Mantashe at the ANC's national general council. (Oupa Nkosi, MG)

Three out of nine ANC provinces have got a good story to tell. North West, Northern Cape and Western Cape are the only ones that have increased their membership during a period in which the governing party lost almost a quarter of its members. 
The ANC’s membership dropped from just over 1.2-million in 2012 to 769 000 according to an organisational report party secretary general Gwede Mantashe delivered at the national general council (NGC). 

  • For more of the M&G’s coverage of the ANC’s national general council, click HERE.

But the smallest provinces have made an effort to increase the numbers. Western Cape recorded the biggest increase from 38 499 members to 49 960.
The second largest increase was in the North West where membership grew from 75 145 to 78 922. ANC Northern Cape also managed to attract new members to increase from 36 428 to 38 680. 

Mantashe’s report said the Northern Cape is “the most stable province” of the ANC because of its strong and united leadership. 

“This team work has eliminated factional divisions and battles in the provinces. It is conscious effort put in forging unity and cohesion that has kept the province united when faced with very difficult problems and challenges,” he said. 

“The continued improvement in the electoral performance and the performance of the provincial government are a reflection of such stability.” 

The ANC in the North West started improving after the election of Supra Mahumapelo as chairperson in 2011. “The PEC [provincial executive committee] that was elected worked hard to build organisational unity, growing the organisation and mobilising the broad cross-section of society,” said the organisational report. 

“This work was not easy in a province that has a history of division and factionalism”. 

While the Western Cape also showed positive progress, race relations is a big problem for the province. The ANC noted that even with an improvement in the party and its performance in last year’s polls, its provincial congress had “strong lobby groups that had an element of racial composition”. 

“The increase in the Western Cape is probably indicative of the attempts to revive the organisation, including the improvements in the recent elections,” said Mantashe. 

All the other six ANC provinces recorded a decline in membership, the worst being KwaZulu-Natal, which moved from 331 820 in 2012 to 158 199 members. KwaZulu-Natal, however, remains the largest province of the party. 

The ANC said its membership fluctuates in-between conferences and peaks when the party approaches conferences. Mantashe urged, particularly, branch secretaries to ensure that members renew their membership. “Another related challenge is that of members not renewing their membership when it lapse” 

“The life of the organisation depends on our ability to recruit new members from all walks of life, so we can ensure our continued influence in the broader society,” said the organisational report. 

Delegates were on Saturday taking part in different commissions to discuss ways to improve the organisation and review implementation of congress resolutions. 

Membership figures by province between 2012 and 2015:

Mmanaledi Mataboge

Mmanaledi Mataboge

Mmanaledi Mataboge is the Mail & Guardian's political editor. Raised in a rural village, she later studied journalism in a township where she fell in love with the medium of radio. This former radio presenter and producer previously worked as a senior politics reporter for the Mail & Guardian, and writes on politics, government, and anything that gives the disadvantaged, poor, and the oppressed a voice. Read more from Mmanaledi Mataboge

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