ANC nomination machine starts cranking into life
The race to become the next ANC president has entered its most important phase, that of branch general meetings.
Although as many as seven ANC leaders have said they are in the running to be president, only those nominated by branches will make it to the last hurdle.
To run for president, a candidate needs to have a majority of branches in at least one province.
The candidate who scores the highest number of nominations from the ANC branch general meetings now under way will most likely be announced as the successor to President Jacob Zuma just before Christmas.
Although it is a not guaranteed that a branch delegate will always stick to the branch mandate, the candidate with the most nominations stands a better chance of winning.
This explains the furious jostling between the two frontrunning presidential campaigns, those behind Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and behind ANC MP Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, to secure as many nominations as possible from the branch general meetings set to be completed in the next two weeks.
Lobbyists say the winning candidate will need the votes of about 2,800 of the just over 4,700 delegates at the ANC's national elective conference in December.
Branch general meetings are an important elective tool and determine who makes it through to the provincial general councils; these can be likened to election "primaries" where nominees are eliminated or meet the threshold to become candidates before the make-or-break moment on December 18.
The meetings are usually held in public spaces such as schools, community halls and civic centres, depending on the location of the branch and how many people attend. These meetings can only be attended by paid-up members of the ANC who have belonged to that particular branch for more than a year - and can only proceed if more than half the branch members arrive at the meeting.It is an arduous feat to get branch members together in a room and meetings are sometimes plagued with drama and even violence.
In an effort to avoid fights over the branch general meetings, the ANC has set out clear guidelines and tighter rules.
In terms of new rules circulated to the branches: "Nominations are done by branch general meetings under supervision by an independent electoral officer."
SHOW OF HANDS
Branches must nominate one candidate for each of the top six positions and supply 20 additional names to serve on the national executive committee. While there are no clear rules on gender parity for the top six, half of the names submitted for the NEC should be those of women.
"After nominating a candidate, the nominator must give a motivation for why that candidate should be a leader of the ANC and the nomination should be opened for discussion," the rules read.
Once the nomination is decided by a show of hands, a nomination form is sealed and handed to the electoral agency. Anyone unhappy about the outcome has two days to raise concerns.