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The missing votes fiasco

What happened to the missing 68?

The election of the entire ANC top six leadership structure – led by newly-elected president Cyril Ramaphosa – risks being challenged amid allegations of 68 unaccounted votes and irregularities in the tallying of votes.

North West chairperson Supra Mahumapelo, a key Zuma backer, confirmed that the ANC’s steering committee is locked in a meeting to investigate what is presently dubbed as “the disappearance” of 68 delegate votes.

The Ramaphosa camp has taken umbrage with the election of Secretary General Ace Magashule at the ANC’s 54th national conference on Monday. Magashule beat KwaZulu-Natal chairman Senzo Mchunu, who is on Ramaphosa’s slate, by a thin margin of 24 votes.

Magashule swept to victory, winning 2 360 votes for the ANC secretary-general post while his rival Mchunu garnered 2 336 votes.

Delegates are expected to discuss the 68 unaccounted votes with the ANC steering committee on Tuesday evening. Despite allegations of vote counting irregularities, the elective conference went ahead with delegates discussing ANC public policies including land reform and radical economic transformation at commissions. 

The total number of approved voting delegates attending the elective conference at Nasrec in Johannesburg is 4 776 but the EleXions Agency, which conducted the actual voting process, said only 4 708 delegates voted – a difference of 68 votes.

Delegates are questioning what happened to the 68 votes and have called for the EleXions Agency to account. The agency could recount all votes including that of ANC president, deputy president, secretary-general, deputy secretary-general, national chairperson and treasurer-general or call for a new voting process.

On Monday, the agency announced the election of Ramaphosa as president, David Mabuza (deputy president), Ace Magashule (secretary-general), Jessie Duarte (deputy secretary-general), Gwede Mantashe (national chairperson) and Paul Mashatile (treasurer-general).

The dispute over the 68 “missing votes” will likely have a bearing on the make-up of the ANC top six leadership structure.

The ANC Woman’s league – which is a member of the ANC steering committee that is meeting over the 68 votes – cancelled a briefing with reporters at 10 am. Members of the woman’s league are attending the emergency ANC steering committee, Moneyweb has learnt.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the elective conference, Mahumapelo said the North West province is surprised that delegates are raising complaints about the voting outcome.

“They [delegates] are allowed to complain but they must follow the process. They must know the risk they are getting the ANC into.  You can’t call for recounting of one position as you don’t know who voted how, as it was by secret ballot. It means that the recounting must be for entire officials [in the top six],” said Mahumapelo.

“The other risk is that they are pushing is that there must be a rerun for the entire officials of the ANC and I’m not sure if we want to do that.”

Mahumapelo sees negotiations with the steering committee as “the right thing to resolve the matter politically and it must end there”. “If the matter goes to plenary, I can assure that we have a mandate from our delegates to call for a run of all the top six officials.”

The registration and verification of eligible candidates was a painstaking process and consumed the first half of the weekend. Each branch sent delegates and the voting lists had to be adjusted for those who were chosen and did not travel, as well as those that were excluded based on court cases that were, in some instances, still being adjudicated late on Friday evening. This finally resulted in a delegate list represented in the following table, with a total of 4 776 delegate votes that would determine each of the positions of the top 6:

Provinces Total branches Total delegates Final Difference
EC 601 648 632 -16
FS 297 409 349 -60
GP 476 508 491 -17
KZN 806 870 804 -66
LIMPOPO 515 643 567 -76
MPU 491 736 708 -28
NC 181 197 193 -4
NW 353 538 446 -92
WC 160 182 136 -46
TOTAL   4731 4326 -405
Leagues and Committees       405
Youth League   60 60 0
Women’s League   60 60 0
Veteran’s League   60 55 -5
NEC*   86 86 0
PEC*   243 189 -54
TOTAL   509 450 -59
GRAND TOTAL   5240 4776 464

Source: ANC, Moneyweb

But when it came down to voting, 68 delegates went missing and did not cast a vote in either direction, as can be seen in the following table. That margin would have been enough to swing the choice of secretary-general – effectively the CEO of the organisation – the other way. 

Results of the 54 ANC elective conference Votes for Ramaphosa slate Votes for NDZ slate Abstentions Spoilt Missing Total Result
President                        2,440                          2,261 4 3 68 4776 Ramaphosa
Deputy President                        2,159                          2,538 4 7 68 4776 Mabuza
General Secretary                        2,336                          2,360 8 4 68 4776 Ace Magashule
Deputy General Secretary                        2,213                          2,474 17 4 68 4776 Jessie Duarte
Treasurer General                        2,517                          2,178 7 6 68 4776 Paul Mashatile
Chair                        2,418                          2,269 14 7 68 4776 Gwede Mantashe


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The ANC does not do democracy well. It tries in every instance to fix the outcome.

“Magashule swept to victory, winning 2 360 votes for the ANC secretary-general post while his rival Mchunu garnered 2 336 votes.” Swept to victory means ….to easily win a competition or an election. He hardly swept to victory!

Stalin supposedly said (it is disputed by some):
“It’s not the people who vote that count, it’s the people who count the votes.”

Those 68 could’ve been enjoying the luxury at Monte Casino.

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