Mabuza’s Mpumalanga ghosts haunt the ANC

If the 2016 Mpumalanga provincial conference is declared illegal, it could invalidate last year's ANC NEC, which saw Ramaphosa take over as president.

A high court case in Mpumalanga expected to be heard today is likely to shine a spotlight on years of questionable behaviour by the ANC in the province, with a special focus on the legitimacy of provincial chairperson David Mabuza, now the deputy president and former Mpumalanga premier.

The Citizen is in possession of a file of evidence compiled by a group opposed to the current Mpumalanga provincial executive committee (PEC), which they will be relying on in their case.

They are hoping to force the party to start on a fresh slate in Mpumalanga, and to neuter the power Mabuza still allegedly wields.

The group, led by Caiphus Malomane, accuses the Mpumalanga PEC of having “violated the constitution of the ANC in all fronts”, adding they have no faith in the ANC’s current provincial leadership since “they have blood on their heads”.

They want the current PEC to be disbanded and the list process currently taking place to pick who will be sent to parliament and the legislature to be halted. They want a provincial task team installed independently and for the ANC’s national executive committee to take over the running of Mpumalanga “as a matter of urgency”.

The group’s evidence suggests that wholesale branch and member fraud did take place in the province.

Mpumalanga has more than one ANC branch per ward, which is against the party’s constitution. Mabuza’s opponents maintain he oversaw the creation of several “bogus” branches, which then artificially inflated the number of delegates the province sent to the ANC’s national conference at Nasrec last year. According to the group’s evidence, many members appear twice in the member lists of different branches, though any ANC member can only belong to one branch at a time. Sometimes their names are slightly changed, but the ID numbers reoccur.

Some branch members have also been found to be deceased, with their death certificates on file, but they still somehow found a way to participate and vote as ANC members “in good standing” in their branches.

The evidence further includes copies of blank membership forms already stamped by a bank teller at an FNB in Groblersdal, with bulk payments deposited to the branch in apparent violation of the fact that members are meant to join and pay their R10 member fees themselves. Affidavits on file accuse those involved in this of working to swell membership figures dishonestly.

The group wants the high court to stop ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule from supposedly “realigning” the province’s wards and branches in a process they feel is akin to a post-crime cover-up. They claim a letter to the Mpumalanga PEC dated August 8, in which Magashule called for the merging of branches to be in line with “demarcations to build coherence around organisational systems” was an indication of Magashule’s attempt to eliminate bogus branches.

If this group succeeds in having the 2016 provincial conference declared illegal by the high court, the outcome could have the knock-on effect of invalidating the ANC’s national elective conference at Nasrec last year, which saw Cyril Ramaphosa take over as president and Mabuza become his deputy.

Mpumalanga’s delegates were decisive in that outcome, since it was the first time in ANC history that the province sent the second-highest number of delegates.

ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe was sent a list of questions on the court case yesterday morning, but had not yet responded by the time of going to print. His phone also rang unanswered.

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