Outgoing ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/ANA

Johannesburg - Outgoing secretary-general of the African National Congress (ANC), Gwede Mantashe, said on Monday that the election campaign for the party's leadership had been characterised by "dirty tricks", but said that that is what politics was about.

This comes as the ANC on Monday will announce its new top six officials following overnight election and voting by more than 4 000 party delegates.

Mantashe was giving his last press briefing as ANC secretary-general as delegates finished of voting for the party's new top six at the party's national elective conference in Nasrec near Soweto on Monday. 

ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa and ANC MP Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma are contesting for the position of the party's president to succeed President Jacob Zuma.

"The run up to this conference was particularly difficult. We saw many things that have happened to all individual people who are standing for elections. I always remind people that history has a tendency of repeating itself. You know when [former South African Prime Minister Hendrik] Verwoerd was assassinated in Parliament, his second in command was Ben Schoeman. 

"Ben Schoeman never became the successor because the securocrats dirtied him, discredited him, and he gave up the contest and they gave us BJ Voster," Mantashe said.

"And I saw signs of those dirty tricks as we were coming into this conference on everyone who was contending and contesting any position, and that is what we said politics is about."

During the election campaign for the ANC's top job, Ramaphosa - who is married and has children - was alleged to have been engaged in extramarital affairs with at least eight women, one of them being a young university student, while Dlamini-Zuma's campaign was alleged to have been funded by monies raised through illicit tobacco smuggling. 

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Mantashe also lambasted ANC members that have chosen the courts to resolve party disputes instead of exhausting internal processes first. 

He said disgruntled members that took the party to court had been his biggest challenge. 

In past year, in the build up to the conference, a number of ANC members opted to take the party to court to try and resolve disputes. 

In the Free State, the outcomes of the province's elective conference were disputed in court by members who were believed to be supporters of Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa. 

Video: Karen Sandison/ANA
Video: Karen Sandison/ANA
Video: Karen Sandison/ANA

The court ruled that the conference was unlawful and barred the province's provincial executive committee (PEC) from participating in the elective conference. 

The same happened in KwaZulu-Natal where the province's PEC was also barred from participating while an appeal of the province's 2015 conference is heard. 

Other structures that also dealt with legal disputes include the North West, Eastern Cape and the Northern Cape. 

Mantashe said the party was working on regaining lost ground especially after last year's local government elections. 

He also expressed concern about the party not being the centre of power. 

"We want a better ANC, a better ANC is good for the country. What should be worked on is that the ANC is the centre of power," he said. 

"What happens in the government impacts the ANC. If a department doesn't manage a project in Nkandla properly, it impacts on the ANC," said Mantashe. 

By 12pm voting was still not concluded as some delegates still had to vote. 

It's not clear when the announcement of the new top six will begin. 

Politics Hub and African News Agency