Mangaung 'a numbers game'
The Eastern Cape ANC's campaign to replace Jacob Zuma as president of the party with his deputy Kgalema Motlanthe has been dealt a severe blow with the revelation that the province's ANC membership has dropped by 35000.
ANC membership in the province with the most ANC members after KwaZulu-Natal has plunged from 225597 in January to 187585.
The membership figures, released by the ANC last week will be used to determine the number of delegates who will represent the provinces at the ANC's elective conference in Mangaung, the Free State, in December.
In Kwa-Zulu-Natal, the number of ANC members increased by 90000 - a huge boost to Zuma's campaign because the province is his electoral stronghold.
In Gauteng, party membership grew from 121223 to 134909.
Various Gauteng members have called on delegates to the Manguang conference to do what was best for the country.
A member of the Gauteng provincial executive committee said party members would be doing South Africa a disservice if they voted with their bank accounts in mind.
"We have reached a point at which the type of leadership we elect in Mangaung should take this country to another level. [If we fail to] do so, we will all be punished come the national elections in 2014.
"It's now or never - South Africa's moment, a voter's moment, has arrived and we can't be found wanting," said the committee member.
The tally of how many delegates each province will take to Mangaung is to be announced tomorrow.
Academic and political analyst Somadoda Fikeni said the presidential race had become a numbers game.
"The battle has moved into the algebra of numbers.
"It has become a political algebra of accreditation. People have learned from Polokwane that the politics of algebra are far more important," said Fikeni.
The ANC in Eastern Cape blamed the decline in its membership on the formation of COPE, which had claimed some members of the ANC.
William Gumede, author of Restless Nation , attributed the spike in KwaZulu-Natal's membership figures to the collapse of the Inkatha Freedom Party and the exodus from that party to the ANC.
"Former Inkatha members have joined the ANC because Zuma is there.
"The problem [with this] is that they might support Zuma but not the ANC.
"If Zuma is not there they might leave the ANC," he said.
Gumede said that in the long-term the situation ahead of Manguang placed both the ANC and the country in a precarious situation.
"We don't want anybody to mobilise support based on one ethnic group.
"The country needs the kind of leadership that can mobilise support across all ethnic groups."
Support based on ethnicity would, he said, undermine the goal of building and developing a diverse but cohesive South Africa.