Johannesburg – As voting continues for the top seven officials there are new dynamics emanating from the last-minute horse-trading between provinces.
The tide seems to now be in the favour of Zweli Mkhize to win the presidential race.
As the two-horse race for the ANC presidency rages an insider in Zweli Mkhize’s caucus has revealed to Independent Media that “he is way ahead” of current president Cyril Ramaphosa after conducting an initial head count.
Speaking to the Independent Media on Sunday, one of the Mkhize’s caucus leaders, who declined to be named, said: “For obvious reasons I cannot give details of the exact head count as that needs to be closely guarded but what I can tell you is that he is far ahead of Ramaphosa.”
A lot appears to have changed since the announcement of the top six positions last month where president Cyril Ramaphosa scored 2 037 branch nominations against Mkhize’s 916.
While most people thought Ramaphosa would easily walk away with the prize, a week towards the start of the conference on Friday showed that Mkhize would give Ramaphosa a run for his money.
After consolidating support from his home of KwaZulu-Natal, Mkhize criss-crossed the country garnering votes from the delegates in the provinces that had endorsed Ramaphosa.
Mkhize’s first stop was in eKurhuleni in Gauteng where his running mates Nomvula Mokonyane, Mzwandile Masina and Phumulo Masuale officially clarified that they were going with him. It was the first time they were seen together campaigning after they were nominated by branches particularly for Mokonyane who also received nominations from Ramaphosa’s supporters.
Mkhize’s political advisers’ strategy of nominating Paul Mashatile, Mokonyane and Mzwandile all from Gauteng appeared to have worked well since latest figures show that about 50% delegates would vote for him. This was despite the provincial leadership having thrown its weight behind Ramaphosa. The province is the president’s home base and is third largest in terms of branches.
Perhaps the biggest surprise for Mkhize was when he won Free State which was reportedly behind the current president. After his visit three weeks to the conference Mkhize came back with the guarantee of 162 votes out of 251 delegates. Few days leading up to the conference Mkhize scored another biggest victory when he took almost half of the Eastern Cape delegates from the president.
Although he did not visit Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Western Cape and North West, his lobbyists worked tirelessly which resulted in him getting a sizeable number of delegates to his favour. Ramaphosa’s alleged preference for Gwede Mantashe over Stan Mathabatha also appeared to have worked in Mkhize’s favour. Angered by this move, Mathabatha’s supporters on Saturday announced that they switched their support to Mkhize. The last minute behind-the-scenes horse-trading at the conference also saw a sizeable number of North West delegates switching to Mkhize.
The horse-trading resulted in a reconfigured top seven line-up from the original line-ups which had emanated from branch nominations.
With KZN fully behind him with more than 800 votes, coupled with half from Eastern Cape and Gauteng plus sizeable numbers from Mpumalanga, Limpopo and North West, Mkhize looks set to win the presidential race.
For the deputy president, Mashatile is expected to capitalise on the failure of Ramaphosa’s lobbyists to convince Ronald Lamola and Mabuyane to show unity and one them withdraw. This is expected to split the president’s votes thereby making it for Mashatile.
For the secretary-general, it’s a three- horse-race between Masuale, Fikile Mbalula and independent Mdumiseni Ntuli.
Ramaphosa’s camp’s failure to strike a deal between Mantashe and David Masondo saw the two vying for the national chairperson position which would also split the president’s office.
For the deputy secretary-general position, Nomvula Mokonyane would battle it out with another national executive committee member Tina Joemat-Petersen who was nominated from the floor by her home province, the Northern Cape.
Little- known Maropene Ramakgopa from Limpopo and Ronalda Nomalunga from Western Cape would fight for the second deputy secretary-general position while Bejani Chauke, Pule Mabe, Mzwandile Masina and Gwen Ramagkopa will vy for treasurer-general’s position.