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ANC membership numbers drop from 1.4 million to 600,000

ANC membership numbers drop from 1.4 million to 600,000
A delegate attending the ANC Conference. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

The organisational report of the ANC which will be delivered by party deputy president David Mabuza this weekend will show the sharp decline in membership the party has experienced since its last national conference.

In 2017, the ANC had 989,000 members. Three years later, when now suspended Secretary-General Ace Magashule was responsible for the administrative tasks of the party, the membership numbers climbed to 1.4 million.

However, the latest tally shows the party has just over 600,000 members in good standing — those who have paid the required membership fees.

Gwen Ramokgopa, the coordinator in the secretary-general’s office, told Daily Maverick this was not necessarily negative for the ANC. She said it was not only about the numbers but also about the quality of the membership.  

“It is a chicken and egg situation; you need a broad base of support because you want to represent the aspirations of South Africans. However, every organisation wants to make sure that they have systems in place to ensure that the values, the principles, the mission are well and truly understood.  

“I think when we expanded to millionaire-level members we did not have the capacity to orient everyone, especially the younger members,” she said.

Ramokgopa has similar sentiments to those of former party president Thabo Mbeki, who has been very critical of the quality of members who have recently joined the governing party.

This year, during a lekgotla held in the Free State, Mbeki suggested that the party cleanse its membership.

He suggested that ANC members be readmitted based on defined criteria, and new members undergo 12 months of probation, accompanied by clearly defined tasks.

Mbeki suggested that the cadre deployment policy takes into account deployees’ levels of political education, community involvement, experience and academic qualifications.

This would mitigate the influx of people who want to join the party for the wrong reasons.

At the moment, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and Eastern Cape have the most members. They are followed by Gauteng, Mpumalanga, North West, Free State, Western Cape and Northern Cape.

The 55th ANC conference begins today (Friday, 16 December) and runs until Tuesday. The party will appoint its new leadership and decide on key policies. Party president Cyril Ramaphosa seems on track for re-election for a second term. DM


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  • Richard Bryant says:

    The true membership was never 1.4 million or anywhere near it. When Zuma was recorded trying to read a simple number (his eleventy twenty help me moment) what he was trying to ask why the membership had dropped to about 750000 from the 1.2 million which had so famously voted him in at Polokwane.

    The truth is, membership in places had been artificially created through suitcases of cash. Whole branches were created in this way. It’s the only reason why we have Mabuza as deputy President.

    So now that the audits have been done and the ghost members deleted, we have what is really true. And realise we had to endure 8 years of a led Zuma coup d’etat and state capture as a result.

  • Easy Does It says:

    The truth is that the ANC membership subscriptions were paid for by the RET faction. Ace and family stole our taxpayer money and paid up thousands of membership subscriptions for all members who were on the database – active or not. This inflated their numbers and any province who wishes to inflate their numbers just have to steal enough to pay membership subs. Now that is the true reflection of the ANC of today. They BS themselves.

  • Glyn Morgan says:

    As the membership goes down (the version that the public see) so does the mythical ANC power evaporate. Time to throw the ANC out. Please Peter Bruce, don’t ask us to vote ANC ever again. I did not, but a bunch of followers did. I trust that they have seen the light.

  • Geoff Woodruff says:

    It was easy for Ace to turn 989,000 into 1.4 m, he did it all the time with tenders after all.

  • Jane Crankshaw says:

    The taxpayers need a Class Action case against those RET ANC members who stole taxpayers money to artificially inflate paid up memberships in so doing, creating a power base for themselves. These people need to be prosecuted and jailed for fraud against taxpayers!

    • Wikus van der walt says:

      A taxpayer class action against that faction, naming specifically the leadership figures is a democratic action. The same should be done by VBS investors to J. Malema and every VBS swindler. Take all their money away and put them in jail for no less than ten years.

  • Ian Wallace Wallace says:

    It would be even less people if you subtracted the people employed in government departments due to their membership.

  • Dr Know says:

    A population of 60 million south africans divided by the numpty number of 600 thousand ANC members yields the numpty ratio. That is, 1 in every 100 or 1% of south africans is a numpty. Why are the other 99% of south africans accepting such horrendous abuse from the numpty 1%?

    • Steven Burnett says:

      I just went to the ANC1912 website. I’m not sure if they ever got their original one back, but it looks like the real deal.
      Membership is directly through branches, not online.
      You have to be over 18 and South African.
      You need to be ‘active’ and support the principles etc etc.
      Annual fee = R20.

      So subs brought in R12m, assuming 100% payment rate.

    • Steven Burnett says:

      Also. headline tab next to ANC home and before membership form is a spiel explaining why you should vote ANC in the upcoming 2021 municipal elections. Not joking.

  • gorgee beattie says:

    Typical obfuscation on the part of Ramokgopa and Mbeki.
    The problem with the ANC is not the “quality” of the members, the problem is the lack of quality of the leadership

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