The seven ANC presidential hopefuls now have an idea whether they will make it or not as provinces have pronounced on who they preferred.
Eastern Cape, Western Cape and Northern Cape have openly back deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa to succeed Jacob Zuma as ANC president with Gauteng – which was still holding its provincial general council (PGC) at the time of going to print – likely to follow.
It’s a given that KwaZulu-Natal, North West and Free State have Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma on the top of their lists.
But Mpumalanga has left everybody confused as it banked on unity, which meant they might not choose either of the two leading candidates.
But there was also talk that the province could go for Dlamini-Zuma after she promised provincial chairperson David Mabuza the tempting post of deputy president.
Limpopo is expected to hold its provincial general council tomorrow to consolidate leadership nominations and determine once and for all who reigns supreme between the two main candidates, Dlamini-Zuma and Ramaphosa.
The Limpopo-born Ramaphosa is tipped to take the province, but it won’t be a walk in the park as he is facing a stiff challenge from Dlamini-Zuma.
The province is said to be a neck-and-neck race between the two, but some in Ramaphosa’s camp claim he is leading in terms of nomination by branches.
The branches are supposed to hold sway in deciding the party leadership, but their strength was weakened by infighting and gate-keeping influenced from the top.
As the province gears for the council tomorrow, ANC Youth League Mopani regional secretary Oliver Mabunda is confident Dlamini-Zuma has taken the region, where she enjoyed wider support.
However, Mabunda was not confident how his favourite candidate had fared in regions such as Sekhukhune, Peter Mokaba and Waterberg, which were the same regions that supporters in the province claimed their leader had secured.
Even the Dlamini-Zuma camp members do not dispute Ramaphosa’s political monopoly in Vhembe, his ancestral home.
The PGC’s task is to consolidate branch nominations and decide on the presidential candidate and executives a province preferred, including the deputy president.
But Ramaphosa and Dlamini-Zuma dominated the debate compared to other candidates nationwide.
Interestingly, the Eastern Cape, instead of nominating presidential hopeful Lindiwe Sisulu as Ramaphosa’s deputy, nominated Zweli Mkhize and Mabuza for the position.
Most of the provinces completely ignored Ramaphosa’s choice, Naledi Pandor, as deputy.
As the branches wind up their nominations and ready themselves to adopt their provincial positions about their final candidate at the PGCs, it has become clear that the five other candidates are lagging far behind Dlamini-Zuma and Ramaphosa.
While Free State had pronounced Dlamini-Zuma as its choice, the province was abruptly stopped in their tracks when the Free State High Court in Bloemfontein ordered that the provincial elective conference must not go ahead until the branch general meetings (BGMs) were properly conducted.
The court declared the BGMs held so far unlawful and for them to be rerun.
The court ruling automatically rendered the province’s PGC null and void and their pronouncement of Dlamini-Zuma as their choice and Mabuza as her deputy as invalid because the mandate that the unlawfully organised BGMs gave to the PGC was also invalid. If the BGMs are to rerun, it means positions taken at the previous BGMs no longer applied.
The leadership of longest serving ANC provincial chairperson and premier Ace Magashule was being challenged by his deputy and former confidant, Thabo Manyoni. Besides, the legitimacy of Magashule’s provincial executive committee is under question and a subject of a court dispute by a disgruntled member Lefa S Mifi.
Mifi maintained that the PEC’s term of office had long expired and their continued existence was not only unconstitutional but also that they had no mandate to lead.