Digitising delays ANC elections

Migrant crisis: There have been glitches in the new membership system which ANC secretary general Ace Magashule launched last year. (Delwyn Verasamy/M&G)

Migrant crisis: There have been glitches in the new membership system which ANC secretary general Ace Magashule launched last year. (Delwyn Verasamy/M&G)

Problems with the ANC’s electronic membership system are likely to delay key elective conferences in a number of the party’s provincial and regional structures until next year.

The move to a digital system has already delayed preparations for four regional elective conferences and a regional general council meeting in KwaZulu-Natal, including in Durban and Pietermaritzburg.

The provincial leadership has asked Luthuli House to allow it to use the old membership system so that the conferences can be held.

The migration to the new system — unveiled in August last year by secretary general Ace Magashule — is also understood to be delaying preparations for provincial and regional conferences in Mpumalanga and North West.

Both provinces are being run by task teams appointed by the national executive committee (NEC).

Cloned ANC branches and ghost members in Mpumalanga were exposed by the Mail & Guardian last year, which led the party to initiate an investigation. This resulted in the collapse of two regions and the merging of parallel branch structures by the provincial task team.

Delays in implementing the membership system will also impact on the representation of provinces and regions at the ANC’s mid-term national general council meeting next year.

The ANC’s bid to end vote rigging and gatekeeping, practices that dogged the path to the 2017 national conference at Nasrec, may also have been affected. And there are implications for the party’s preparations for the 2021 local government elections.

The problems with the system will be discussed this weekend at an ANC secretariat forum, convened by Magashule and to be attended by the party’s provincial secretaries.

ANC KwaZulu-Natal spokesperson Ricardo Mthembu said preparations for the regional conferences had been completed.

“In all of the regions we are ready to go to conference, but the problem we have is with the membership system.
We have requested that we be allowed to work with the old membership system for these conferences to go ahead and that we then migrate to the new digital system,” Mthembu said. “It is not that we are not appreciative of the need to make use of the new system.”

Migration to the new system and its “processes” were “taking a lot of time” and the problem was a “national issue” and not confined to KwaZulu-Natal, he said.

Delays in implementing the membership system are not the only threat to the ANC’s conferences.

In North West, the leaders of Kenneth Kaunda and Ruth Segomotsi Mompati regions have threatened court action over their disbandment a year ago by the task team appointed to replace the provincial executive committee (PEC), which was dissolved by the NEC.

Five PEC members, including ousted chairperson Supra Mahumapelo, successfully challenged the decision to dissolve it in the high court. They then went for an execution order to force the NEC to allow the PEC to go back to work. This process stopped and a political

solution was found — a joint structure consisting of the PEC and the task team appointed to run the ANC in the province until the conference.

Last month the two regions placed Luthuli House on notice, arguing that their dissolution was part of a purge of Mahumapelo and his supporters and threatening to take the matter to court. They argued that the task team’s failure to dissolve Ngaka Modiri Molema region showed bias. The province’s fourth region, Bojanala, was dissolved ahead of the Nasrec conference and its delegates did not participate in it.

ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe said he would seek clarity on the process from Magashule and then comment.