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By Eric Naki

Political Editor

1 000 ‘hidden’ votes are key

‘These are the numbers Ramaphosa and Dlamini-Zuma should be targeting to win.

About 1 000 “hidden numbers” – those ANC delegates who have not yet committed themselves to either of the main candidates – could hold the key to this week’s party elective conference.

So, it could be embarassingly premature for either the Cyril Ramaphosa or the Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma camp to proclaim victory in the race for ANC presidency.

Nathan Dufour, a senior research associate with the Paternoster Group in Cape Town, has unpacked the mystery of the hidden votes.

He said about 400 ANC branches, with about 500 voting delegates, have not been accounted for.

They had until the end of the past weekend to convene quorate branch general meetings (BGMs).

In addition, he said there are about 330 branches representing about 500 delegates across the country that have either nominated a different candidate than the forerunners, Ramaphosa and Dlamini-Zuma, or abstained from nominating anyone including Mpumalanga’s “unity” vote.

These are the numbers that both Ramaphosa and Dlamini-Zuma should be targeting to win.

But as the situation stands, Ramaphosa is being touted by his supporters as an unstoppable tsunami, similarly to Jacob Zuma prior to Polokwane in 2007.

Notwithstanding the neck-and-neck battle between the two, the former trade union leader is tipped to take the title.

Ralph Mathekga, another analyst, said the level of crises that beset South Africa were driving support for Ramaphosa. “Zuma is seen to have plunged the country into this.

The problem is whether the ANC will heed this national mood and do the right thing.

It will be difficult for the ANC to go to the elections with NDZ,” Mathekga said. Dufour said there was evidence Ramaphosa was leading.

But he was cautious, saying it all depended on the electoral college at the conference.

“When we do our projection, we have to pay due attention to the fate of the about 500 soon-to be delegates whose branches have either not expressed their choice or nominated alternative candidates and those missing from the branch general meetings.

“Despite what some have affirmed recently, it is absolutely not guaranteed that the conference delegates that have received a ‘unity’ mandate from their branches in Mpumalanga will vote as one man for NDZ. People are still lobbying,” Dufour said.

Dufour, whom Richard Calland, a founding partner of the Paternoster Group, calls “the mole” because of his investigative research into the finer details, said his projections do not even exclude members at regional and sub-regional levels in order to be accurate or close to it.

According to Dufour, if numbers were the only factor to be considered and not factional affiliation, Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza stood a good chance of becoming the next ANC deputy president, with above 1 500 nominations.

Mabuza was clearly ahead of fellow candidate Lindiwe Sisulu and even Zweli Mkhize, a presidential candidate.

KwaZulu-Natal’s Senzo Mchunu and outgoing secretary-general Gwede Mantashe were doing very well in the race for the positions of secretary-general and national chairperson respectively in terms of nominations.

“There should be some sort of unity at the conference when considering these factors. There is a mix of people from different slates in the top six, therefore giving Ramaphosa, if he becomes the president, a fair mix of the members from both sides,” Dufour said.

Dlamini-Zuma’s followers are adamant the recent survey by Ratepop that showed Ramaphosa leading meant nothing as the branches that nominated her were bigger and had higher numbers of delegates.

“We are not only relying on KZN, we will have big delegations from branches and sectoral structures that support NDZ,” a source close to her camp said.

– ericn@citizen.co.za


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