Former KZN Premier Senzo Mchunu. File picture

Johannesburg - The steering committee of the African National Congress (ANC) had by Tuesday night not announced the way forward regarding the missing 68 votes of delegates who are part of the thousands gathered in Johannesburg to elect new national leadership of South Africa's ruling party.

Fears of the decisive conference collapsing were mounting as supporters of losing secretary-general Senzo Mchunu, former premier of KwaZulu Natal province, demanded a recount of votes, claiming that their preferred candidate lost out to Free State premier Ace Magashule because of irregularities.

North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo told journalists that even though he accepted the outcome of ANC leadership election, a recount of the votes should not be only for the position of secretary-general but for the entire top six of the party.

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The ANC steering committee was locked up in a series of meetings on Tuesday, but the way forward was not announced to hundreds of curious journalists at the event.

Mchunu supporters claim at least 68 votes are missing from the secretary-general vote tally. The difference between Mchunu and Magashule was a mere 24 votes. The results of the position were so close, to the extent that when they were announced, Mchunu’s supporters also celebrated and carrying him to the stage, thinking that he had won.

Mahumapelo’s North West province had backed former African Union chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma to take over the ANC's top job. She lost to the country's Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa, who garnered 2440 votes against Dlamini Zuma’s 2261. A total of 4776 delegates cast votes at the hotly contested conference on Monday.

Following the dissolution of the NEC, which was led by former party leader Jacob Zuma, the ANC is now managed by a steering committee consisting of the secretary-general’s office, chairpersons of provinces and the party’s leagues.

On the other hand, the ANC Women's League (ANCWL) also came out on Tuesday to announce the ruling party had failed South African women, by voting in Ramaphosa over Dlamini Zuma.

Video: Karen Sandison/ANA

Still reeling from the shock after Monday’s elections outcome, ANCWL president Bathabile Dlamini said patriarchy had once again “reared its ugly head” in the ANC.

“We are disappointed. We fought a good fight…this was history in making for women in the ANC. We had a female as [presidential] candidate on the ballot paper, our common goal should be fighting and defeating patriarchy and sexism,” she told reporters during a briefing.

The women’s league rallied behind Dlamini Zuma touting her as the choice for women.  She also received support from the youth league and the MK Veterans Association (MKMVA) who campaigned for her in the run up to the national conference. 

Interestingly, Lindiwe Sisulu, who lost deputy presidency to Mpumalanga’s David Mabuza, did not receive support from Dlamini and the women’s league.

As the four-day event draws to a close, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) on Tuesday expressed “deep disappointment” with the conduct of security personnel at the elective conference, after several journalists raised complaints of intimidation and assault. 

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“This regrettable act of thuggery should be nipped in the bud, and the perpetrators held accountable. Journalists are workers too and they should not be intimidated or forced to work in a climate of fear,” Cosatu national spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said in a statement. 

“We commend the ANC communications team for their swift response but we demand more to be done to ensure that the rights of journalists are respected. This conference should be about the restoration of unity of the ANC and the rehabilitation of its image, and these over the top acts of intimidation and harassment create a wrong impression about our ANC.” 

Pamla said the ANC “should not allow few, over-exuberant people” to paint the whole organisation as a paranoid entity run by an unaccountable caste operating on the fringes of the law. 

African News Agency/ANA