Natasha Marrian Political editor: Business Day
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. Picture: MASI LOSI
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. Picture: MASI LOSI

Branches in Mpumalanga that voted for the "unity" ticket have been directed by the ANC provincial leadership to support Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

Business Day understands that structures have been informed that the 223 "nominations" for a position of "unity" should be read as backing for Dlamini-Zuma’s campaign for the party presidency.

However, it is being questioned whether this instruction came from chairman David Mabuza or from provincial leaders who are known to be Dlamini-Zuma backers.

Although Ramaphosa will remain in the lead in terms of nationwide branch nominations, such a directive would eat into his margin and provide a psychological boost for Dlamini-Zuma, who appears to be trailing Ramaphosa by more than 500 branch nominations.

Votes from delegates

Ramaphosa’s tally of branch nominations stood at 1,860 to Dlamini-Zuma’s 1,358.

If the 223 nominations for "unity" were added to her tally and she got all 223 nominations, hers would rise to 1,581.

Branch nominations will not necessarily translate to votes from delegates who attend the elective conference.

More work needs to be done by nominated candidates to ensure delegates at the Nasrec conference vote for them.

Insiders in Mpumalanga said there were also a number of Ramaphosa backers who had opted for "unity" on their nomination forms and these were not likely to vote for Dlamini-Zuma when they cast their ballots at the conference.

The race is still too close to call and is heading for a nail-biting finish at the ANC’s 54th national conference starting at Nasrec on December 16.

Sources in Mpumalanga aligned to Ramaphosa said Dlamini-Zuma was set to receive the nod from those branches who had opted for unity at their general meetings.

There were also plans to hold a rally in Dlamini-Zuma’s honour on Wednesday.

Provincial secretary Mandla Ndlovu said the purpose of the provincial general council held last week had been to consolidate branch nominations.

At that council Dlamini-Zuma received 123 nominations and Ramaphosa 117.

The majority of nominations, 223 in all, were recorded as "abstentions" by the ANC electoral agency. Ndlovu said since the "unity" votes were seen as spoilt votes, the provincial nomination "signed by myself and the provincial chairman is for Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma".

Two leaders in the province told Business Day that this line was being pushed by Ndlovu and other Dlamini-Zuma backers and not Mabuza himself.

Consensus approach

It was Mabuza who, at the provincial general council, insisted that the electoral agency pronounce on "unity" instead of declaring Dlamini-Zuma to be the leading candidate.

But Dlamini-Zuma campaigners at a national level said Mabuza had himself attended the past three national caucuses of her backers and they were expecting the province to publicly back her at the rally.

Mabuza has been endorsed widely on Dlamini-Zuma’s slate as deputy president in the branch nomination process.

However, the Mpumalanga chairman has been hesitant to come out and publicly back Dlamini-Zuma as he has been in talks with other provincial chairmen on a "consensus" approach to leadership.

This is to avert another split in the organisation that could damage its election prospects in 2019.

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