Any hope of a unity deal at the ANC's elective conference next weekend now appears to have disappeared, with Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa having dismissed President Jacob Zuma's suggestion that the loser of the presidential race should automatically become deputy for the sake of unity in the party, according to City Press.
This is despite numerous attempts by party members to prevent a winner-takes-all scenario unfolding at the elective conference, which starts on Saturday in Johannesburg.
On Monday, Business Day reported that ANC Gauteng provincial chairperson Paul Mashatile is still campaigning for a "unity" outcome, following attempts by Zuma to prevent a contest two weeks ago. Zuma reportedly met with the ANC's provincial chairpersons and secretaries in an effort to get them to agree to vote for consensus leadership.
Mashatile told Business Day that the talks were about electing a leadership that would be for the greater good of the organisation.
But despite Zuma's efforts, the Mail & Guardian reported last week that Ramaphosa and his main competition, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, have been unable to agree on a unity slate.
On Sunday, City Press reported that, according to Ramaphosa, Zuma's suggestion, floated at the ANC's policy conference earlier this year, "never gained traction".
He reportedly said: "There was a sense that all this should be left to branches because they are the repository of democratic practice in the ANC. And if you agree that branches are the real lifeblood of democracy in the ANC, then you should let them decide.
"It is firmly my view," he said.
Ramaphosa also revealed that, when Zuma met all seven presidential candidates for dinner two weeks ago, he did not try to broker a deal.
"He was clear from the beginning that, as candidates, we should get our supporters to behave in a way that will make the conference successful," Ramaphosa said, adding that all the candidates had agreed to a fair fight.
If you were an #ANC delegate voting at the National Conference -- and had to choose between the two -- who would you pick for the party's top spot?— HuffPost SouthAfrica (@HuffPostSA) December 5, 2017