Attention now on voting delegates as close contest enters crucial final phase
As the race for the ANC presidency enters its final phase this week, the focus is set to be on voting delegates rather than branch nominations in a tight race that could swing either way between deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa and MP Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
It is a dangerous phase in which the will of branches could be subverted through paying off voting delegates who will cast their secret ballots at the ANC’s 54th national conference, which takes place in Gauteng in two weeks’ time.
Both camps set about tallying their delegate numbers over the weekend as provincial general councils in seven of SA’s nine provinces placed Ramaphosa in the lead, based on branch nominations tally.
Following the provincial general councils, the branch nominations have Ramaphosa on 1 278 votes and DlaminiZuma on 800.
Mpumalanga opted not to name a preferred candidate, pronouncing instead in favour of “unity” after some 223 of the province’s branches wrote “unity” on the nomination forms instead of naming a candidate.
Two key provinces have yet to hold their provincial general councils – KwaZulu-Natal, which is the ANC’s largest province and Dlamini-Zuma’s main support base, and Limpopo. Both council meetings will start today.
ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe has said that 5 240 voting delegates are due to attend the conference.
The party’s constitution requires that 90% of the voting delegates must be from the branches, but 509 of the delegates are from the party leagues and the national and provincial executive committees, as well as ex-officio members.
Although branch nominations are important, obtaining the majority at that level does not guarantee the same voting patterns from branch delegates attending the conference.
The number of delegates from each branch differs according to its size.
Mantashe told journalists after the last special meeting of the ANC’s national executive committee that ANC branches with 100 members would receive one voting delegate, with branches entitled to two delegates for every 250 members.
This is, however, limited by the size of the party membership in the province, as set out in the ANC constitution.
Ramaphosa campaigners say nominations indicate preferences of the majority, but they are counting on delegates to assess their candidate’s true chances.
There are already fears of vote- or delegate-buying in Ramaphosa-strong provinces such as Limpopo, though many provinces have yet to submit reports.
The Gauteng, Northern Cape, Eastern Cape and Western Cape branches have nominated Ramaphosa for the ANC presidency. The Free State and North West provincial branches have nominated Dlamini-Zuma.