Former finance boss Trevor Manuel believes there is a chance of ANC branch numbers being manipulated, a situation which may lead to the party's national conference in December crashing before its third day.
Speaking at the annual Eric Molobi memorial lecture at the University of Johannesburg on Thursday night, Manuel said the ANC's National Executive Committee (NEC) elected at the Mangaung conference in 2012 was the product of a "gross manipulation of membership and branch systems" to construct a conference of "unthinking and disengaged delegates".
"The NEC elected at the Mangaung conference in 2012 does what it is told; there are very notable exceptions. It was the product of a gross manipulation of membership and branch systems to construct a conference of unthinking and disengaged delegates," he said.
"The likelihood of the conference collapsing into a heap at the point of the credential stage on days one and two is high."
"The stakes are very high this time round... The ill-conceived NEC elected at Mangaung produced on its watch a crisis of illegitimate provincial executive committees that in turn oversaw the creation of poor regional executive committees and in turn destroyed the branch structure in the main."
He said he had a hunch that, come the December conference, there will be "prospects of fresh manipulation of numbers"
"...And if this is so, the likelihood of the conference collapsing into a heap at the point of the credential stage on days one and two is high. If the conference does proceed, the same awful situation will play out," Manuel said.
He lambasted the party and its leadership, saying it had declined "to the point of rupture".
"Of this great history, very little remains because it appears to be in the interest of those who have been elected to leadership now, and those embedded in key roles in public office, to serve only their masters, not the people," Manuel said.
He then commented on the country's legal institutions, saying that they were "cut down in their youth".
"I wish that I could attribute all of this destruction to the president, but he doesn't act alone. In fact, he mainly gets others to act on his behalf. The origin of this regress is in the ANC.
"Today we must ask why the National Prosecuting Authority, the Scorpions who became the Hawks, the Crime Intelligence units in the [police], the general [police], the National Intelligence Agency and State Security Agency, the lower courts, the South African Revenue Service and even the Public Protector have all been rendered incapable," Manuel said.
"They've all been destroyed because their presence as upholders of the law do not serve the interests of the elite. To this long list, one must add Parliament."
Commenting on the state of Parliament, Manuel said ANC benches act as a pillar of support to President Jacob Zuma, using their numerical advantage to "block rational inquiry into constitutional violations".
"I wish that I could attribute all of this destruction to the president, but he doesn't act alone. In fact, he mainly gets others to act on his behalf. The origin of this regress is in the ANC," Manuel said.
Offering up advice to the party, Manuel said what South Africa needs an ANC that will honestly evaluate its performance since 1994; analyse whether the policy decisions it took have been implemented, and, if not, find what the impediments were; take action, not rhetoric, to remedy the situation and agree what cadre is best equipped to alter the party's course for the future.