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ANC chaos — rumbles over unpaid staff, branches battle with leader nomination deadline

ANC chaos — rumbles over unpaid staff, branches battle with leader nomination deadline
African National Congress staff picket outside Luthuli House in Johannesburg on 6 September 2021. (Photo: Gallo Images / Sharon Seretlo)

The failure of the ANC to pay staff salaries is continuing to cause ructions — and concerns are mounting that the situation could affect preparations for the party’s national conference in December.

The ANC blames new party funding laws for its failure to pay staff salaries, saying the promulgation of these laws has led to fewer donors being prepared to come forward and fund the party.

In recent weeks, disgruntled ANC staffers have threatened a total shutdown of the governing party’s offices across all provinces. They said the ANC has failed to pay their salaries, despite repeated promises to do so.

About 4,250 voting delegates are expected to gather for the party’s December national elective conference. The ANC’s constitution stipulates that 70% of these delegates must come directly from the branches, with the rest being made up of the provincial executive committees, the Women’s League and the Youth League. The veterans and alliance partners (Cosatu and the SACP) have non-voting delegate status at the conference.

The initial deadline for the branches to have held their general meetings (BGMs) was Sunday, 2 October. This has since been extended to 25 October due to technical glitches and protests by ANC staff at Luthuli House headquarters as well as in regions throughout the country.

Read more in Daily Maverick: “ANC forced to extend branch nominations deadline due to power crisis, unpaid staff

According to staff, the new ANC operating system uses a QR code to scan and verify ID copies of party members to ensure branches reach the quorum to hold these meetings. The QR code is verified at Luthuli House, but since the staff there have not been paid and are on a go-slow strike, or are not working at all, there is no one to verify if the branches have met the quorum.

As a result, many branches that had planned to hold their general meetings last weekend were forced to cancel.

KZN — which has 136,267 members in good standing — will send 877 voting branch delegates to the upcoming conference. This is the biggest number of all provinces.

The eThekwini region, the largest region in the party according to membership numbers, had not held general meetings in most of its branches this week. 

Conference delay concerns

ANC eThekwini spokesperson Mlondi Mkhize told SAfm this week there were concerns that the nonpayment of staff was affecting the region adversely, and even threatening to delay the national conference.

“The process of holding BGMs is handled at the ANC headquarters. For the conference to sit, it needs a certain number of branches to have sat. Now with this situation (of nonpayment of staff), we don’t want to anticipate what possibilities (including the conference being delayed) there will be if these staff members are not paid and branches are unable to hold their BGMs. We hope these matters will be resolved as soon as possible,” Mkhize said.

Secretary of the Mbuso Kubeka region, Chris Mhlophe, said his region was also struggling due to chaos caused by the centralisation of the new QR code system and the nonpayment of salaries. This has left the region “helpless”.

He said just more than half the branches have been able to hold their general meetings. Those that met have been consistent in nominating Zweli Mkhize to challenge Cyril Ramaphosa for the position of ANC president.

“There is nothing more painful than working, only to find that you are not getting paid for months on end. It is very unfair… we feel for them (ANC staff),” said Mhlophe.

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Muzi Chirwa, Mpumalanga ANC provincial secretary, told Daily Maverick that his province was worried about the impact of the nonpayment of salaries on the party’s preparations for the conference. Mpumalanga will take 390 delegates to the December conference.

“We are generally affected by the nonpayment of staff, like other provinces. Out of our province’s 267 branches, we have so far only managed just more than 80 BGMs. We hope that the more than 100 branches that are expected to hold BGMs this weekend will sit successfully. By 22 October, we hope to have completed the BGM processes,’’ he said.

Chirwa said although his provincial executive committee had announced earlier that it was in favour of a second term for Ramaphosa — with the youthful Justice Minister Ronald Lamola as his deputy — they have allowed branches to make their own determination “because we don’t want to dictate to them”.

The Eastern Cape — which will send the second-largest provincial delegation to the conference — is also severely affected by the nonpayment of staff salaries.

Power cuts and QR code system failures

According to Loyiso Magqashela, ANC Eastern Cape provincial spokesperson, the province has only held 172 BGMs — 494 are still outstanding.

“The biggest hurdle for us has been the centralisation of the QR code system in the ANC headquarters. Also, the constant load shedding has frustrated our efforts to hold the BGMs as the QR code system does not work during power cuts.

“We have appealed (to ANC HQ) that, as the province, we must be allowed to generate our own QR code system so that we can speed up the process. It is now up to ANC HQ to decide, but we have made a presentation to them to consider this as the Eastern Cape is one of the provinces that [has the] capacity to generate its own QR code system,’’ he said.

The ANC in the Free State is racing against time to ensure that all its branches convene meetings before 25 October, the cut-off date for the nominations of national leaders.

Read more in Daily Maverick: “Technical glitches could see some ANC Free State branches excluded from the national conference

Speaking to Daily Maverick, ANC provincial spokesperson Oupa Khoabane said the technical glitches were a concern as some branches might be excluded from the national conference in December. The province is supposed to send 301 delegates to the conference.

“Our worry is the deadline for national conference nominations, which will be in 15 days from now,” he said.

Mandla Qwane, spokesperson for unpaid ANC staff, was unavailable for comment.

‘We are living in fear’

ANC staff members who work in Luthuli House and provincial and regional offices, who spoke to Daily Maverick and asked to remain anonymous, said they were troubled by the constant nonpayment of salaries.

“We are living in fear… we don’t know whether our salaries will be paid or not. Imagine if you have a bond and children’s tuition to pay. How do you tell the school that you cannot meet your obligations because your bosses have not paid you?” asked one staffer.

ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe said the party is trying its best to get donors so that it can pay its staff regularly. He admitted that September salaries had not been paid.

He said the new Political Party Funding Act — which has determined a R100,000 threshold for donations that can be accepted anonymously — has hit the party hard.

“We are doing everything in our power to ensure that preparations for the national conference are not hampered by this (nonpayment of salaries). The treasurer-general of the ANC is working around the clock to get donations so that salaries are paid regularly,” he said. DM

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  • Alley Cat says:

    The ANC cannot even run their own party yet they claim to be able to run the country? Both are in the same state of chaos and turmoil.
    Interesting that they never struggled before for funding, but the new act shows that those who were supporting them anonymously before are too embarrassed to admit it now.
    Or was it perhaps (probably) because they were using public funds to fund their party??? HMMM

    • Malcolm McManus says:

      The Irony is too beautiful. I like it when the ANC get caught out by their own shenanigans. Any company that is seen to be funding the ANC will certainly lose much support from the greater paying public. If you cannot inflict severe wounds at the polls at least let them feel it in their finances.

  • Rob Blake says:

    Was it a case that previous ANC donors were recipients of state captured loot and their sources of fraudulent income have now dried up? Or were some donors reliant on inflated pricing in government tenders to give a portion of these ill-gotten gains to the ruling party?
    Or is it a case that many donors are predicting that the ANC are not going to get a majority vote in the next general election and are backing other horses in the race to hedge their bets?

  • R S says:

    Ha. Ha. Ha.

    The party cannot keep its own house in order and we are supposed to believe they can run the country? And their former funders are scared to be associated with the ANC brand? Or is it a case that the money was coming through illicit channels and now those are being monitored?

    Get out of here!

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