Dead ANC members have been kept on its branch membership lists in what concerned party activists in Mpumalanga claim was part of a plan to inflate membership figures ahead of last year’s national conference.
The presence of 11 deceased ANC members on the branch membership list for the Ehlanzeni region’s ward 24A branch is among a series of allegations of branch cloning and membership manipulation contained in a dossier presented to the ANC’s national dispute resolution committee (NDRC) last month.
But ANC deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte has said the committee did not view the retention of dead members as sinister, but rather as an administrative issue.
One of the deceased members, Michael Ntshaba, died in 2011. Another died in 2013. Four died in 2014 and two last year.
Ronnie Malomane, one of six members who submitted the complaint, said the “ghost members” had remained on the branch membership list during the process leading up to last year’s provincial conference and the national conference at Nasrec in December. “This is a serious case. It is not just a problem in this branch, but all over the Mkomazi subregion, Ehlanzeni region and the whole of Mpumalanga,” he said.
“We gave this evidence to the NDRC on May 10 and are waiting on them to act. We also presented information on cloned branches in the region,” Malomane said. “This problem has been going on here for years. Dead people and ghost members are being used to push memberships up. We have been marching about this and complaining about this for years, but nobody wants to listen.
“This was taking place before Nasrec [where Cyril Ramaphosa was elected ANC president] and before the [last] provincial conference [where now deputy president David Mabuza was elected chairperson],’’ he said.
Information on apparent cloning of members in ward 24A, B and C’s branches, which the Mail & Guardian has seen, shows one individual’s identity number appearing in two, and in some cases three, branches. In other cases, one identity number is used for two memberships at the same branch.
“We are still hoping that the NDRC will act on this. If they don’t, we have resolved that we will go to the court. We are being left with no choice,’’ Malomane said. “After the weekend we will inform them of our intention to make a court application next Thursday.”
Last July then ANC treasurer general Zweli Mkhize told the M&G that his office was investigating collusion between bank officials and ANC members, as well as the bulk buying of memberships, in Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape and Limpopo. It is not clear at this stage what the outcome of the investigation was.
Duarte, who led the NDRC team that met with the concerned branches, confirmed that the team had been informed about dead members still being on the books of some branches. “In every branch, when somebody dies the branch secretary is expected to remove the deceased from the database of the ANC. At headquarters, we will not know unless we have been informed by the branch,” Duarte said.
“My understanding is that the branches have been asked to remove all of them. Hopefully it has happened,’’ she said. Duarte said the NDRC had not carried out an investigation but had “asked that the matter be checked” by the provincial leadership.
The NDRC did not view the retention of dead members as sinister, said Duarte. Because of the ANC’s five-year membership policy, a person’s name would remain on the membership list after they died because there was no annual renewal process. “When the auditors go and do the audit, they pick it up and remedy the situation.
“I understand the mistake because I have been in the ANC long enough. I don’t see this as sinister. It is a problem, but ours is to say we fix it. We are not finding dead people added to the roll … I would be concerned if we saw this happening,’’ Duarte said.“Anything is possible … or let’s say, not impossible. Where the proof will be is when audits are done and there is checking.’’
The regions and provinces would be asked to go through membership lists “very thoroughly”. Duarte said that if names of dead members were found to be still on the branch attendance registers after they had died then this would be a “misdemeanour”.
“Then we will deal with the secretary of the branch.”
She did not believe this was an act of gatekeeping. “I don’t think gatekeeping and manipulation is that. Gatekeeping is when members are left off completely. The problem we are facing now is to work to ensure that no ANC member is left off the branch database, and that any deceased is taken off,” she said.
The late Michael Ntshaba’s daughter Mavis said the family had been “shocked” to find out that her father’s name was still on the ANC’s books.
“We are shocked by this. We buried him long ago. It is painful to hear this after so many years. It hurts because it’s opening up old wounds. It is wrong,’’ she said. “We love the ANC, but if we had money we would take them to court over this,” Ntshaba added.