As horse-trading at the ANC elective conference intensifies ahead of Sunday’s election of ANC top leaders, the Limpopo province, previously behind President Cyril Ramaphosa, is now divided.
During the build up to the conference, the ANC in Limpopo, which wants its provincial chairperson, Stanley Mathabatha, elected the party’s national chairperson, was rallying behind Ramaphosa.
However, things changed at the conference following an announcement by Limpopo deputy chairperson Florence Radzilani that the province would now back Ramaphosa’s rival, former health minister, Zweli Mkhize.
“As a province, we have now decided to take a different route,” she said.
However, the provincial leadership’s position is not shared by some of the province’s regions.
Hasani Ngobeni, the ANC Norman Mashaba regional spokesperson in Limpopo, said the provincial leadership’s decision was a unilateral one, and has not been discussed with the province’s delegation.
“We were shocked to hear about the provincial leadership’s decision. It was never discussed with us.
“I can confirm that the majority of delegates from Limpopo are still fully behind the president,” he said.
While it remains unclear how many of Limpopo’s delegates would still vote for Ramaphosa, the statements by the two ANC leaders from the same province has caused divisions within the Limpopo block.
The divisions in the ANC in Limpopo came after perceptions within the provincial leadership that Ramaphosa, who resolved not to be part of slate politics, was not supporting Mathabatha’s candidacy.
Should a substantial number of Limpoopo delegates vote for Mkhize, the former health minister’s chances of beating Ramaphosa would increase.
Mkhize, who has the support of the majority of delegates from his home province of KwaZulu-Natal, also has some support from provinces such as the Eastern Cape and Free State.
On the other hand, Ramaphosa was being supported by the majority ANC branches in the party’s nine provinces, who are represented at the conference.
For Mkhize to win, a substantial number of the ANC’s more than 4000 delegates would have to go against the directive of their branches, who have overwhelmingly endorsed Ramaphosa.
Apart from Mkhize, other ANC KZN members who will be contesting senior ANC positions at the conference include former KZN ANC provincial secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli, who is vying for the party’s secretary general position and former KZN premier Sihle Zikalala, who is contesting a position in the ANC national executive committee (NEC).
After electing the ANC top leaders, the ANC delegates will start discussions on a number of key issues ranging from energy to the party’s contentious step aside policy stipulating that ANC members facing criminal charges should step down from their positions in the party and government.
WATCH: ANC Limpopo Norman Mashaba regional spokesperson, Husani Ngobeni confirms majority of the delegates from Limpop support President Cyril Ramaphosa.