An ANC supporter holds a flag of the ANC while the President Jacob Zuma addresses ANC Gauteng Cadre Assembly in Pretoria. Picture: Phill Magakoe

President Jacob Zuma and the ANC’s national working committee (NWC) have demanded an investigation into the rising allegations of fraud and corruption during branch nomination meetings, irregularities that could undermine the integrity of the party’s conference in Mangaung next month.

The Sunday Independent was reliably informed that Zuma and other members of the NWC, the party’s senior operational organ, have instituted three task teams to unearth corruption in the party’s nomination process. The NWC met on Monday.

The NWC members have expressed their concerns regarding complaints of fraud and irregular meetings of branches to nominate candidates for the party’s leadership, including the top six positions.

Zuma is seeking re-election for a second term, and it is believed that his deputy Kgalema Motlanthe will challenge him.

Despite provincial leaders pronouncing their preferred leader, branches – according to the ANC constitution – are key in nominating candidates. But manipulation of branches through gatekeeping and fraudulent membership, intimidation and branches not reaching required number of members are some of the allegations raised with Luthuli House.

Their concerns followed written complaints from thousands of ANC branches countrywide that their branch general meetings were fraudulently constituted and irregularly managed.

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe confirmed yesterday that the task teams had been established to “solve the problems”.

“It is because people write complaints. We just don’t want to close our eyes and ignore them,” Mantashe said.

He added that he was compelled to give the complainants a hearing “even if, in my own view, I think things are going well”. ”[The task teams] are working already. We don’t want reports; we want them to resolve problems,” said Mantashe.

Gauteng ANC spokesman Nkenke Kekana confirmed that the province had received complaints from some of its branches, ranging from intimidation to fraudulent registration of members.

“We have also received complaints where people will be violating the most basic of rules such as wearing of T-shirts. There were acts of intimidation. What we have done in all the regions is that the provincial leadership is currently attending to those problems,” Kekana said.

Lucky Ndinisa, ANC secretary in Mpumalanga, said complaints included branch members who did “not appear on the attendant register”. “We still have a problem.”

ANC Limpopo secretary Soviet Lekganyane said members of one of the Luthuli House’s task teams arrived in his province on Friday and met with the provincial executive committee’s dispute resolution teams.

He however said provincial leaders who were sent to some of the branch meetings have also complained about the regional executive committees deliberately convening meetings without following proper procedure.

KwaZulu-Natal party secretary Sihle Zikalala said “any complaint would be discussed with the task team”.

There have been allegations of ghost members and fraudulent branches in KwaZulu-Natal.

ANC Free State secretary William Bulwane said “we have not received any complaints from the branches – unless they sent them directly to (the) national (office).”

But a provincial leader has raised concerns about the composition of the task teams, their mandate and the criteria used to appoint their members, saying complaints should be handled by lower structures and not Luthuli House.

But Mantashe said: “The responsibility of ensuring that there are no problems is the responsibility of the [national executive committee].”

Meanwhile, ANC branches that fail to hold general meetings before the cut-off for nominations in two weeks’ time face disqualification.

This means the number of branch delegates at the party’s Mangaung conference could be significantly reduced.

In some provinces and regions, the branch nominations process is in disarray, with administrative errors and incorrect lists dogging proceedings.

However, the ANC remains optimistic all branches “will succeed” after the party gave them an extended two months to complete the process.

The Eastern Cape, the party’s second-largest province after KwaZulu-Natal, is struggling to meet its self-declared November 23 deadline, with several branch meetings still outstanding.

Mantashe said delays didn’t mean the branches were in disarray, adding that the party expected all of them to “succeed”.

The Western Cape, one of the party’s two smallest provinces with the lowest number of delegates, is dealing with problems of its own.

Branches are not only failing to form a quorum, there are also administrative errors, with names of members in good standing not appearing on the national list.

Dullah Omar (Cape Metro) regional secretary Vuyiso “JJ” Tyhalisisu said the meeting of the ward 40 branch that was scheduled to take place at the Luyolo Community Hall in Gugulethu failed to go ahead as planned yesterday.

Western Cape secretary Songezo Mjongile blamed the “national office” for complaints from members who were in good standing not being on the national audited lists. He said the province’s involvement in the auditing process had been limited to facilitating the process.

He said members could submit complaints to the provincial offices, but there was no guarantee their names would be added to the national list. - The Sunday Independent