/ 17 December 2022

Dwindling membership, step aside rule and load-shedding — some of the ANC’s many problems

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Deputy president David Mabuza on Saturday afternoon delivered a lucid overview of the state of the party’s internal challenges — and lack of funds. (Leon Sadiki/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

ANC membership, step-aside bid, financial problems, economic outlook and load-shedding take precedence in the party’s organisational report at the ANC’s 55 elective conference.

The ANC’s organisational report that was tabled by the outgoing deputy president David Mabuza on Saturday afternoon delivered a lucid overview of the state of the party’s internal challenges.

Tackling issues of ANC membership, Mabuza said the party has been experiencing  a membership decline over the past four elective conferences.

Mabuza said the decline was caused by the different systems that the party has been using to track and record their membership.

“The systems we have experimented with have had their strengths and weaknesses.  The weaknesses include slow-turnaround time with issuing membership cards, preventing  gatekeeping, accounting for the profile of members and their life in the organisation,” he added.

These weaknesses crept into the 55th conference where the programme continued with an undisclosed number of nearly 4 500 delegates having failed to get accreditation on the second day of the conference.

Mabuza added that the decline in the party’s membership has led to a decline in the electoral result and party confidence.

He mentioned that the party had noted that the decline was caused by lack of trust, knowledge and capacity deficits.

Part of these challenges include the party’s inability to deal with the high unemployment rate, corruption charges of its ministers, load-shedding and declining economic outlook.

The party has been riddled with corruption allegations and charges, which has seen many members being suspended or expelled, as well as the introduction of the step-aside rule which barred members of the ANC who have been charged with corruption from being elected for any position in the government.

“At the heart of what we must characterise [as an] existential crisis faced by our movement, is the fact that the cumulative effect of many years of sins of incumbency and organisational challenges eroded the image, resilience and revolutionary capacity of the ANC,” he said.

Addressing a closed session on Saturday, Mabuza referred to the suspension of Ace Magashule as an unprecedented situation which occurred for the first time in the party’s history.

Last year, the party’s disciplinary body, the national disciplinary committee, forced the suspended secretary general to step aside from his position after he was charged with fraud, corruption and money laundering. It has since barred him from accepting nominations during the current conference.

Mabuza noted that because of these challenges, five million voters that participated in voting in local government elections in 2019, did not vote in 2021.

“Voters are fast losing confidence in the ANC to govern effectively and to meet their needs and services,” he said.

The party has faced financial challenges which has seen it fail to pay its employees due to lack of funds.

Mabuza alluded that the Covid-19 pandemic on the back of the state capture report affected the party’s funds, as investors and donors have shied away from helping the party financially.

He admitted that load-shedding has impacted the South African economy negatively, which has also impacted the profit of the companies that the party relies on.

He urged all the delegates to “practise what they preach to become the change the party seeks” as a way to restore trust and confidence in the ANC.