The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape, the party’s biggest province and second-biggest respectively, differ on the proposal.
The move will see about 1 million members voting for leaders, including the national executive committee (NEC), instead of branch delegates nominated to a conference.
The ruling party is grappling with its leadership election strategy, which has been plagued by vote-buying and manipulation, allowing space for “capture” of the organisation by business interests.
On Thursday, at the ANC NEC meeting in Pretoria, the party’s Northern Cape structure openly backed the proposal to vote directly for its president and other top leaders. This followed a decision in the Eastern Cape on the proposal - which was adopted at the ANC’s recent policy conference.
However, KwaZulu-Natal has firmly rejected the proposal with Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Gauteng among those not yet to decide.
ANC Northern Cape provincial chairperson Zamani Saul said they were the first ones to support the proposal.
“Our resolution was that the NEC must investigate the possibility for all members of the ANC to vote for the leadership.”
Saul said the NEC would look at the modalities of this. “The first thing is to improve the integrity of the membership,” he said.
He said the Labour Party in Britain was already allowing its members to vote directly for its leadership.
However, the ANC spokesperson in KZN, Mdumiseni Ntuli, said it would not fly.
“This is not a decision of the policy conference. It’s one of the permutations that the policy conference said we must consider,” he said.
“As a province, we don’t support it. Our view is that the existing mechanism is sufficient. What we need to do is to strengthen the quality of the branches so that they produce delegates of high quality,” he said.
ANC secretary in Limpopo, Knox Seabi, said they had not started discussing the matter. “Discussions are still going on until the national conference in December,” he said.
ANC secretary in Mpumalanga, Mandla Ndlovu, said they had not started discussions on the proposal yet.
ANC spokesperson in Gauteng, Nkenke Kekana, said this was a brilliant idea but would be difficult to implement. “(We) need to modernise the party. We are in discussion to modernise it,” he said.
The ANC boasted around a million members, and the proposal was to allow all of them to vote in the elective conference. This would replace the current system, where delegates from branches vote for the ANC president, the top six and the NEC.