Picture: Twitter/@SiviweFeketha

Johannesburg - The divisions over who should succeed President Jacob Zuma as ANC president were palpable at the delayed start to the party's crucial 54th national elective conference on Saturday.

Delegates lustily sang songs in honour of their preferred delegates, despite a pre-conference injunction from the ANC leadership that songs about contesting candidates should not be sung at the conference, held at Nasrec, near Soweto.

Zuma was expected to deliver his last political report to the party's watershed congress on Saturday before he steps down as ANC president.

Delegates in support of presidential candidate Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma put on a brave show at the start of plenary proceedings, singing about her and those on her slate.

As delegates settled to their allocated seats, KwaZulu-Natal delegates took to the front and broke into song, voicing their confidence in Dlamini-Zuma to win the race.

Then Ramaphosa’s supporters took to the front to sing songs in support of the former trade unionist and current deputy president of the country.

Mpumalanga, North West and some Eastern Cape delegates joined in, singing "Baholi bethu siyanixelela, imhlophe imonopoly" (Our leaders, we are telling you, monopoly is white). 

The two camps were expected to pick up where they left off in their fight over the characterisation of monopoly capital.

The same delegates screamed and whistled as Free State ANC leader Ace Magashule entered the plenary.

Magashule will only participate as an observer at the conference after the Free State high court on Friday nullified the recent provincial elective conference where he was elected and declared its outcomes as unlawful and void.

While the top six members had still to arrive, ANC Women's League president Bathabile Dlamini, national executive committee members Jeff Radebe, Lindiwe Sisulu, Mathole Motshekga and liberation veteran and ANC stalwart Andrew Mlangeni were the first to take their seats.

Dlamini shook her head and took photos as delegates backing Ramaphosa also took to the front and sang that she was going to leave with Zuma.

The Star