Whatever happens in the ongoing court case in Mpumalanga brought by aggrieved members of the ANC, a very unpleasant can of worms will be opened for the party.
The case threatens to cast doubts over the legitimacy over ANC grassroots structures in the province – with dodgy dealings and gerrymandering of internal party membership rolls said to go back many years.
Those going to court are accusing the Mpumalanga provincial executive committee (PEC) – the powerhouse of former premier and now Deputy President David Mabuza – of violating the ANC’s constitution.
Although the allegations still have to be tested in court, the complainants claim wholesale fraud among membership lists had been committed by the PEC. One example of this is the fact that, in many cases in Mpumalanga, there is more than one ANC branch per ward – something which violates the ANC constitution.
Evidence to be produced in the legal action includes claims of a significant number of “ghost” members, whose names appear in duplicate, or even triplicate, on the party lists.
The outcome of the case is crucial for the governing ANC because it could, in theory, affect the results of last year’s electoral conference at Nasrec. Mpumalanga’s significant membership numbers translated into delegates and the province was effectively the “kingmaker”. Mabuza’s people threw in their lot with Cyril Ramaphosa, paving the way for the latter to be elected ANC leader and therefore, the president.
Even if there is no attempt to challenge the conference results, the unseemly legal fight is another in a series of ANC internal disputes which indicate that there is plenty of suspicious conduct even within its own membership.
It’s easy to see why, though.
Political office is – or has been, up to now – the fast track to wealth, not service to the people.