by Stef Terblanche

ANC leadership race still too close to call

How votes are currently placed

African National Congress
ANC logo2.jpg

The African National Congress has finalised the allocation of the number of voting delegates which each of its provincial, league and other structures can send to its national elective conference at Mangaung in December. Some surprising changes in provincial membership figures have raised eyebrows and additional factors are now coming into play, which may influence the leadership election. Recently released figures make some speculative calculations possible. 

Most indications are that the leadership race is turning into a bruising and destructive battle for the governing party. But the possibility of a 'negotiated' outcome at Mangaung is also emerging.

To balance all interests and ambitions will not be easy but efforts are afoot to strike a backroom deal between competing factions aligned behind different leaders and/or slates for the top six party positions.

Membership figures

On Friday 28 September the ANC’s national executive released the result of its audit of membership figures in its various branches and provinces. It contained some big surprises.

KwaZulu-Natal, President Jacob Zuma’s staunchly supportive home province, had seen its membership balloon by a massive 79 183 new members. In contrast, the Eastern Cape, which harbours strong opposition to Zuma, saw its membership radically reduced by 38 012 members since the beginning of the year. Similar dramatic changes were evident in some other provinces.

With the election of the ANC’s top six leaders and its NEC just around the corner, these changes naturally raised eyebrows, especially since the leadership battle has already seen much proverbial political blood being spilt over the past months.

Sam Mkokeli pointed out in an article in Business Day that the KwaZulu-Natal ANC’s official records suggests that KwaZulu-Natal managed to increase its paid-up membership by almost 80 000 in a single month.

The party’s KwaZulu-Natal structures have since challenged this interpretation, claiming the figure is the cumulative result of a year-long intensive recruitment drive.

At the same time the Eastern Cape ANC, which in January was close behind KwaZulu-Natal with 225 597 members, somehow shed 38 000 members, slipping to 187 585.

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe attributed the Eastern Cape’s membership loss to serious organisational problems in that province. Some observers however, point out that while Mantashe has a vested interest in Zuma’s re-election, he and his office were in charge of the membership audit.

He also reportedly tried, at the NEC meeting, to alter the historically tried and trusted formula for the allocation of delegates. According to reports Mantashe wanted representation to be based on the new membership figures. This idea was apparently rejected on a proposal from Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe,  Zuma'sstrongest  challenger. This saw the NEC return to the “delegate-per-branch-in-good-standing” formula. A task team had to allocate the additional voting delegates for this year’s conference.

Some projections

However, leaving such questions aside, we used the numbers officially released by the ANC to try to ascertain how voting for the ANC presidency may play itself out in December. The following is the picture that emerges:

Please see image at the end of the article.

The following is a breakdown of how we arrived at the way the ANC national conference delegates will vote for the two most likely candidates, based on declared sentiments by structures and some assumptions:

•100% of votes of known Zuma's supporting provinces were allocated to Zuma and 100% of votes of known Motlanthe's supporting / anti-Zuma provinces were allocated to Motlanthe;

•Each candidate was allocated 50% of the votes of divided provinces and the divided NEC;

•100% of the votes of the ANC Youth League was allocated to Motlanthe;

•100% of the votes of the ANC Veterans League was allocated to Zuma;

•66.6% of the votes of the ANC Women’s League was allocated to Zuma, while 33.3% went to Motlanthe; and

•50% of the additional provincial votes went to each candidate.

Indications are that the election for ANC president could turn out to be  extremely close. The speculative 530 votes in favour of Zuma is a very precarious number and ultimately, could go either way.  (LINK to part 2).

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