ANC president Jacob Zuma and his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa during the 54th ANC elective conference taking place at Nesrac, December 16 2017. Picture: MASI LOSI
ANC president Jacob Zuma and his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa during the 54th ANC elective conference taking place at Nesrac, December 16 2017. Picture: MASI LOSI

The ANC is heading for another winner-takes-all election after delegates started voting for the party’s new president late on Sunday.

The race is a nail biter, pitting former AU Commission chairwoman Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma against Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Observers said on Sunday the fallout from this fiery contest could be more far-reaching than that which followed its Polokwane and Mangaung conferences in the past 10 years.

Both of these conferences resulted in breakaways.

By the end of the day on Monday, the new president of the ANC will be announced.

Ramaphosa obtained the majority of the verified branch nominations, with 1,469 to Dlamini-Zuma’s 1,094.

However, branch nominations do not automatically translate to actual delegate votes. Last-minute lobbying was still taking place on the sidelines of the conference on Sunday.

Insiders in both camps admitted to the closeness of the race, but outwardly expressed confidence of their prospects.

The Ramaphosa camp calculated that it could obtain 2,521 votes, while the Dlamini-Zuma camp said her chances of obtaining 2,578 votes were pretty good. A candidate needs 2,391 votes.

It was set to boil down to whether Ramaphosa had managed to swing a significant portion of delegates from Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal, two provinces that support Dlamini-Zuma.

The conference on Sunday officially rejected a "unity" approach, dismissing the idea of two deputy presidents and an additional two deputy secretaries-general.

According to delegates attending the session, the Dlamini-Zuma group pushed hard for two deputy secretaries-general, while the Ramaphosa  group opposed it.

When it came down to a vote — by show of hands — the Dlamini-Zuma group withdrew. The vote would have provided a clear picture of which way the vote would go, but the Dlamini-Zuma faction’s withdrawal halted it.

Both factions spent Sunday night lobbying for last-minute votes. Voting continues on Monday morning as the delegates are voting in blocks of 200 voters. Mpumalanga chairman David Mabuza was originally touting the "unity" vote,  but on the eve of conference he threw his support behind Dlamini-Zuma.

He received the majority of branch nominations (1,128) for the position of deputy president. He will be opposed by Lindiwe Sisulu, who received 619 nominations from branches.

Outgoing treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize was officially nominated as the third contestant for the post of deputy president, but later declined after accepting the nomination, saying he did so "for the sake of unity" in the organisation. The secretary-general position will be contested by Free State Premier Ace Magashule and former KwaZulu-Natal chairman Senzo Mchunu.

Once the top six positions have been announced, delegates will start nominations for the additional national executive committee members

Current deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte will fight to keep her job against Cosatu second deputy president Zingiswa Losi.

Gwede Mantashe was nominated for the position of national chairman and will go up against NEC member Nathi Mthethwa.

Gauteng chairman Paul Mashatile and NEC member Maite Nkoana-Mashabane will be vying for the position
of treasurer-general after Nomvula Mokonyane declined nomination.

There were no nominations from the floor for any of the top leadership positions — any person nominated would have needed support from at least 25% of the voting delegates.

Once the top six positions have been announced, delegates will start nominations for the additional national executive committee (NEC) members.

Just before nominations for positions started on Sunday, delegates were still debating the rules for voting, especially in relation to the NEC members.

The majority of delegates who spoke from the floor were vehemently opposed to the idea of not being allowed to take the list with the names of the 80 NEC members they should vote for into the voting booth.

These delegates were aligned to Dlamini-Zuma.

The decision on whether to allow the list in the voting
booth was delayed so that nominations and voting for
the top party officials could be dealt with.

The NEC nominations will be opened on Monday when the fight over rules governing the election will continue.

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