ANC NEC member and deputy minister of agriculture Bheki Cele says it is too late for an uncontested race at Nasrec this weekend, Eyewitness News (EWN) reported. He said President Jacob Zuma did not have the respect required to form a "unity" slate that would bring an end to the fierce competition between the two main contenders, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Cyril Ramaphosa.
Cele has reportedly been campaigning for Ramaphosa.
He told EWN: "It [a unity deal] hasn't happened and I guess it's too late now, so looking at present candidates we think Cyril can give us the best outcomes when it comes to the ANC going forward."
He said Zuma should take some of the blame for this.
"I don't think many people will take him seriously if he doesn't put some kind of blame on him before he calls for the unity."
On Sunday, City Press reported that Ramaphosa had rejected a unity deal, saying that the branches should decide the leadership question.
Ramaphosa reportedly said a suggestion by President Jacob Zuma, that a unity deal be considered to avoid a contest at the elective conference, "never gained traction".
"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.
The Mail & Guardian reported that Ramaphosa and Dlamini-Zuma's camps had been unable to agree on who should take the top six positions.