The Western Cape became the second province to nominate Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe for ANC president early on Thursday morning, as the journey to Mangaung nears its end.
Gauteng and the ANC Youth League have also nominated Motlanthe – but President Jacob Zuma is still in pole position to clinch a second term at the party’s national conference, set to begin in just 10 days.
Delegates received the results of the vote after pushing on through the night to complete the nomination process.
After the results were called out, Zuma and jubilant Motlanthe supporters broke out in song and dance, competing to drown each other out, all in seemingly good spirits.
Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi and Deputy Arts and Culture Minister Joe Paahla lauded the mostly peaceful conference as “democratic as only the ANC does”.
Late on Wednesday night, however, the engagements were markedly more tense as non-delegates caucused outside, negotiating with different factions from the fractured province.
The province’s nomination conference was delayed twice at the weekend, largely as a result of the major battle between those who want Zuma to remain in charge of the ANC and those who want Motlanthe to take the reins.
Provincial chairman, Marius Fransman, is known to be backing Zuma, while provincial secretary, Songezo Mjongile, is a key lobbyist for change.
On Thursday morning Mjongile was circumspect about the Motlanthe victory, saying it was merely an “official nomination of the Western Cape”.
“Branches can still go to Mangaung and be persuaded either way [to vote differently… But] of course every nomination counts, so of course it will boost [chances of Motlanthe accepting the nomination].”
Meanwhile, a relatively upbeat Fransman said the Western Cape conference was “basically in a situation of a 50:50 balance where Motlanthe got 99 votes and President Jacob Zuma got 90 votes”.
“We know that as supporters of President Jacob Zuma we are taking our votes to what I believe is already 2 370 votes being taken into the national process,” he said.
There will be 4 500 voting delegates at Mangaung.
“However, we are very satisfied that the spirit was good, healthy, no bad-mouthing among comrades, and I think that’s what we were able to pull off today.”
Zuma has been nominated for the top job in KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, the Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, North West and Free State.
He also has the support of the ANC Women’s and Veterans’ leagues.
The Limpopo nomination conference, meanwhile, was delayed again on Wednesday, according to Sapa, amid continued disputes.
Motlanthe supporters were reportedly proceeding on Thursday morning without the rival Zuma camp, who had walked out claiming the conference had not properly verified delegates.