16/12/2017 12:06 SAST | Updated 16/12/2017 12:06 SAST

5 Takes On The State Of Play At #ANC54: Who Has The Momentum?

The ANC's national conference is off to a rocky start, but the powers seems determined to run a tight ship.

The stage in the plenary hall at Nasrec where the ANC's 54th national conference is being held.
WIKUS DE WET via Getty Images
The stage in the plenary hall at Nasrec where the ANC's 54th national conference is being held.

The ANC's 54th national conference will start five hours late on Saturday after a special meeting of the party's NEC was called to discuss the three high court judgments which affected delegates from KwaZulu-Natal, North West and the Free State. We haven't spotted either Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa or Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma yet.

Here's our take on the state of play:

  1. Gwede Mantashe, ANC secretary-general, is adamant to ensure that the integrity of the conference is preserved. He has personally tried to intervene where there have been issues and told the media the NEC would not entertain faulty interpretations of the party's constitution.

  1. There is clear contestation around voting delegates. Mantashe is in charge of the conference, but the partisan Fikile Mbalula is in charge of elections and credentials. They're on opposite sides of the fence, which is probably why the CR17 campaign has deployed Bheki Cele to shadow Mbaks. Mbalula, the gatekeeper?

  1. The ANC's leadership doesn't want to take any chances. Mantashe said the party would respect the court rulings that disqualified two provincial executives and a large (pro-NDZ) region. They want no comebacks with urgent applications. But, the disqualified delegates only number in the region of 100 votes -- not enough to stop the gathering.

  1. Registration and credentialing are taking longer than expected. The conference was supposed to start at 9am, but by 11am registration was still taking place at the University of Johannesburg.

  1. Where's the momentum? Depends on who you speak to. CR17's people say they're ahead, NDZ's people say they're ahead. But we have seen three court judgments go against NDZ provinces, we saw a subdued President Jacob Zuma on Friday night and Mantashe's grit in ensuring only legit delegates vote.