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‘ANC overall membership has not declined’

The party said a large number of people joined the movement but are not registered on its systems.

FILE: President Jacob Zuma at the ANC’s NGC in Midrand on 09 October, 2015. Picture: Gia Nicolaides/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The African National Congress (ANC) says its overall membership has not declined and a drop of around 250,000 people announced by the party's President Jacob Zuma merely reflects those who have paid their fees and renewed their membership.

The president yesterday said the party's membership dropped from 1,2 million to around 770,000 since its Mangaung conference in 2012.

Yesterday, Zuma said this drop is due to gatekeeping by leaders who wanted a smaller number of people in branches because it's easier to manipulate.

But today the party said that a large number of people have actually joined the movement but are not registered on its systems.

It says the ANC grew by 150,000 people since 2012.

The party's head of elections and campaigning Nomvula Mokonyane says the drop in the number of members is due to people serving their own interests.

"We are dealing with it to ensure that there is no longer personal interference and gatekeeping. A number of these members were made to have their membership lapse by those who have selfish interests in terms of not wanting to see the ANC growing."

WATCH: Zuma happy with NGC progress

While the ANC's branches and senior leadership meet to discuss the state of the party's organisational battles and its performance, there've been calls for concrete solutions rather that rhetoric from the leadership.

The party's National General Council (NGC) is underway in Midrand, where delegates have divided into commissions, which are meeting behind closed doors to review policy.

Yesterday, the party's president and general secretary painted a grim picture about the reasons for a loss of support saying factional battles and corruption are eating away at its integrity.

There's been mixed reaction to ANC's frank admission of its state of organisation.

Wits University professor of governance Susan Booysen says the party has been non-committal in dealing with its most difficult issues.

"The tunes of corruption and factionism, confessions that this is really devouring 'the ANC'. If there had been a strategy evident to definitively deal with those problems it might have been better."

Booysen says the party's discussion documents have not provided much support in dealing with governance at state owned enterprises.

"The delegates here in many ways I feel sorry for them because I don't think they are getting much guidance from the discussion documents. There is little that is definitive in or is new on governance."

Commissions will continue throughout the night and report back session expected in tomorrow's plenary.

WATCH: As the ANC National General Council kicks off, EWN's Stephen Grootes explains its significance.