With three weeks to go before arguably one of the most crucial ANC national conferences in the party's history, the remaining six provinces will all host their Provincial General Council meetings over the next few days.
The race for the presidential top spot is reaching its final stretch, and provincial leadership structures are expected to announce their preferred candidates at the PGC meetings scheduled between Friday and Monday next week.
The final vote for the ANC's new leadership will be left to the 4,723 branch delegates and the 525 delegates –– comprising national executive committee members, provincial executive committee members and the ANC's leagues –– attending the conference.
Based on past conferences, delegates typically vote in accordance with what their branches dictate. Therefore, the provincial nominations provide a guideline of sorts on which way the elections may go –– but nothing is certain.
However, based on the current political climate in each province, analysts have hazarded a prediction on the outcome of the nominations.
Western Cape and Northern Cape: Ramaphosa
Both provinces have already concluded their meetings, and have nominated deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa for president of the ANC.
Branches in Gauteng were some of the first to declare for Ramaphosa earlier this year. The province's executive committee also sent a letter to its regions naming the deputy president as their only preferred candidate.
The province's ANC boss, Paul Mashatile, has also been coaxed onto Ramaphosa's side with an offer of the treasurer-general post.
Independent political analyst Ralph Mathekga said Gauteng has, in the past few years, been an anti-Zuma province that demonstrates the biggest backlash from citizens when it comes to the performance of the ANC.
Political analyst Molifi Tshabalala also said Ramaphosa is expected to come out tops in Gauteng.
Free State: Dlamini-Zuma
Free State also concluded its PGC on Tuesday –– and threw its weight behind former African Union chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma –– but the province was dealt a blow by the High Court, which found that several branches across four regions of the province were "irregular, unlawful, unconstitutional and in breach of ANC constitution".
Tshabalala said that although the Free State PEC is in the midst of a court battle, it is unlikely that their nomination for the Dlamini-Zuma slate will change –– largely because she has the backing of the province's premier, Ace Magashule.
Magashule has been nominated as secretary-general on Dlamini-Zuma's slate.
Mpumalanga remains an enigma in the December conference, largely due to its provincial leader, David Mabuza, who has not sided with any candidate thus far. Dlamini-Zuma has offered the position of her deputy to Mabuza, coaxing him onto her side by stroking his presidential ambitions.
Ramaphosa has left Mabuza out of his slate completely. It is believed Mpumalanga is largely united behind Mabuza.
Mathekga said Ramaphosa would have wanted to steal away Mpumalanga on his own, without Mabuza's help.
"Having Mabuza on his slate would have been in contrast to what his supporters would have wanted. It is unlikely Ramaphosa will have a good place for him even as December draws closer. But a significant part of Mpumalanga will [go] Mabuza's way come the election," Mathekga said.
However, Tshabalala said Mabuza may be wary of Dlamini-Zuma, hence his silence.
"Mabuza has political ambitions to get to the top, and Dlamini-Zuma is offering him a ticket there. But he also must be aware that with Dlamini-Zuma as president, the ANC stands a chance of losing in 2019. But ultimately, he may still side with her, just for the deputy position," Tshabalala said.
Both analysts believe that Ramaphosa's home-ground advantage should secure him the majority vote from Limpopo.
"The province has previously moved away from anyone associated with president Jacob Zuma; but it is divided as well. However, Dlamini-Zuma may not gather enough support here to overthrow Ramaphosa in his home province," Mathekga said.
Mathekga said Dlamini-Zuma is likely to secure North-West with the backing of the province's premier, Supra Mahumapelo. Mahumapelo was once seen as a member of the "Premier League" –– a group of ANC leaders who supported the Zuma faction.
"With Mahumapelo at the helm, North-West should vote for Dlamini-Zuma. But it will also be a divided vote. Not all of the province is behind Mahumapelo," Tshabalala said.
Described as the most divided province of them all, KZN will send the largest voting delegation to the conference and is strongly entrenched in the Zuma faction. However, Ramaphosa has made significant inroads into the province.
Tshabalala said if the current High Court ruling declaring the PEC illegitimate stands, Ramaphosa's backers may gain a slight advantage, but are still unlikely to steal away a majority in president Zuma's and Dlamini-Zuma's home province.
Eastern Cape: Ramaphosa
Eastern Cape is a highly contested province, but Ramaphosa has made significant inroads to secure voters despite the ongoing clashes between factions in the province.
"Eastern Cape came out losers in 2012, when Zuma was reelected for a second term. The province is rife with factionalism, which helps Ramaphosa's campaign," Mathekga said.