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ANC’s new dawn

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Race for top position remains too close to call.

LAST night as the DFA went to press, the race for the leadership of the ANC remained too close to call.

Last minute lobbying, horsetrading and fake news went into overdrive as the party’s 4 776 delegates prepared to elect the top leadership of the ruling party.

The nominations for the top six positions, held after 6pm, produced a few surprises, one of them when outgoing treasurer general Zweli Mkhize declined nomination for the deputy president position.

He had been nominated by 193 branches for the position but declined saying this was in the “interest of unity”.

His withdrawal kept pundits guessing as to whether he would throw his weight behind either Cyril Ramaphosa or Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.

Lobbyists from both factions claimed Mkhize’s support, but he had not publicly announced support for either.

A few hours before voting was to begin Super Zuma, the secretary of the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal, said the Dlamini Zuma faction was still lobbying Mkhize.

“There has been some engagement with him and there are comrades who are managing that issue. We are in a process of discussion with him,” said Zuma.

Officials from the elections agency overseeing the process earlier announced that Naledi Pandor had also withdrawn from the race for the deputy president paving way for Lindiwe Sisulu. Nomvula Mokonyane also declined nomination for treasurer general position – leaving the way clear for a two way slate.

Voting was expected to start after 9pm with the results expected to be announced this morning.

There were a number of critical proxy battles that played out in full view of the conference – being won by one or the other of the two factions.

Divisions played themselves out at plenary as the two factions flexed their muscles on certain debates.

Shots were fired on day one of the conference when Dlamini Zuma’s supporters rejected the proposal of having alliance partners deliver messages of support at the open session

One of these was the bitter discussions that ensued after the Electoral commission outlined the rules for nominations.

The bone of contention was around the identification of delegates with the proposal being that on top of the accreditation tags, delegates would be required to provide identity documents. Another proposal was to ban the lists of candidates being nominated for the additional 80 positions in the NEC.

ANC elections agency head and Struggle stalwart Sindiso Mfenyana laid down the rules during the session, announcing that ballots for the nomination of additional NEC members would not have names.

The group supporting Dlamini Zuma rejected these proposals on various grounds including that the delegates cannot be expected to remember all the names that had been nominated by their branches.

Mfenyana had stated the agency’s plan not to include names was in the interest of crushing factionalism, which Jacob Zuma has declared the biggest threat to the ANC.

ANC NEC member Tony Yengeni told delegates that the conference was the party’s highest decision-making structure. “No body can impose rules on us,” he said to loud applause from delegates

As it looked like the conference was going to deteriorate into chaos, various NEC members intervened. The discussions were deferred until after the nomination of the top six officials as NEC member Naledi Pandor warned: “We cannot carry on this way,”

During other sessions there were other battles being fought with many ending in a stalemate. Another one had been on constitutional amendments where delegates considered the issue of expanding the top six to eight members.

The Dlamini Zuma supporters were in favour of the expansion while those aligned to Ramaphosa rejected these. The Dlamini Zuma camp suffered a blow after these proposed amendments were rejected by the plenary and Ramaphosa supporters later claimed victory over this.

A delegate said the majority of delegates had voted in favour of the status quo remaining in terms of the size of the top six.

The Dlamini Zuma camp had also unsuccessfully tried to push for voting on the issue of deputy secretary general to be decided by secret ballot but failed on that.

While the general view was that the race was too close to call this did not prevent both sides from circulating messages claiming victory based on predictions.

The factions also tried to outsing one another at the conference.