While Cyril Ramaphosa has enjoyed the lead in branch nominations across the country‚ things can still change at the ANC elective conference this weekend.
Ramaphosa scored nominations in five of the nine provinces‚ while the other main presidential candidate‚ Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma‚ won four endorsements to lead the ruling party.
But political analyst Mzoxolo Mpolase said it was “highly probable” that a different picture could emerge at crunch time.
“On the conference floor‚ people will be lobbying. You know‚ the notion of free agents that happens at provincial elective conference‚ it happens at national elective conferences too‚” Mpolase said.
“Yes‚ a person is there by virtue of being a branch delegate but remains open to whomever offers something on the day or whatever alliances they can have‚ particularly if you look at the Mpumalanga case.”
He added that the delegates coming from Mpumalanga who chose to write “unity” on their ballot papers during provincial general council offered themselves for lobbying.
“They have some known comrade called Unity. That effectively means these comrades are open to be lobbied. There is no such a person called Unity. That is an open expression that says we are open for lobbying … They have a strategy going in but that will be figured out on the basis of what allegiances they can have on the conference floor.”
But Mpolase said the shake-up was unlikely to be drastic. He added that provincial positions declared over the past weeks had a role to play in influencing the outcome of the conference.
“It shows the public support or mood in terms of where everyone is going‚ so that‚ in a sense‚ what comes out is closely related to the preferences. At the same time‚ if there is a lot of lobbying on the conference floor‚ to the point that it becomes drastic‚ it would effectively set up a crisis. People would say it does not reflect the will of the branches.”
Political analyst Susan Booysen said the election process goes was contradictory. On the one hand‚ there is a possibility of mutual lobbying at the conference and the secret vote‚ while on the other the branches have given the delegates their mandate on how to vote.
“The two are really totally and entirely mutually exclusive.”
She added: “The fact that I think it is contradictory does not mean that it is not going to happen. In the past national conference where there was more emphasis on the provincial votes‚ we have seen that those mandates were maintained through the voting process. But we also know that political times have changed. Political culture has changed. Quite a number of delegates come from authoritarian ANC structures where you fear for your life if you dare deviate from a public position.”
She said there is also a chance that some of the delegates might feel that their branch mandates were not fairly represented at provincial level and could be open to persuasion at the conference.