Johannesburg – ANC branches would like to see more contestants for the deputy president post than they do for the president – this is what the outcomes of the nomination process have revealed so far.
Although a record seven ANC leaders are battling it out to replace President Jacob Zuma in the next two weeks, ANC branches would rather have some of them compete for the second spot.
Presidential hopefuls Lindiwe Sisulu and Zweli Mkhize, as well as Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza, have booked their places for the deputy president post on the ballot paper of the national elective conference.
Sisulu got the nod from the Northern Cape, while Mkhize was nominated by the Eastern Cape. Both provinces have endorsed Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa for the top job.
Mabuza was nominated by the Free State, which chose Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as their presidential candidate.
Naledi Pandor, Ramaphosa's preferred candidate for the deputy president position, is yet to be nominated. However, an ANC provincial leader told News24 that she still had a chance.
"There might be a fourth candidate for the deputy president position, with comrade Naledi Pandor nominated from the floor," he said.
Pandor would need 25% of the voting delegates to support her nomination for her name to be put on the ballot paper – a difficult task, as this is usually done by show of hands.
Ramaphosa was heavily criticised for announcing Pandor as his preferred "running mate".
News24 resident analyst Mpumelelo Mkhabela said there were several reasons why Pandor was not featuring on the nomination lists.
"It's either because Ramaphosa made his preference for Pandor known too late, or the branches don't want her. The branches who support Ramaphosa might be signalling who they want to succeed him when his term expires, so they could be preparing for 2022," Mkhabela said.
With four out of nine provinces having completed branch nominations at their respective provincial general councils, Ramaphosa is leading the presidential race.
He has received a combined total of 742 branch nominations from the Northern Cape, Western Cape, Free State and Eastern Cape. His rival Dlamini Zuma has 322 from the same provinces.
Dlamini-Zuma's supporters appear unconcerned, as they believe that KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga – respectively the largest and second largest provinces – will close the gap between her and Ramaphosa. North West province is also expected to come out in support of Dlamini-Zuma.
Limpopo and Gauteng are expected to back Ramaphosa.
Mkhabela said the margins between the two would indicate who is likely to replace Zuma.
"If the margin is too wide between the two, it would be difficult to alter it at the conference. But if it's too narrow, a few delegates could easily sway the outcome against the popular vote of the branches," he said.