Mangaung voting to get underway

Delegates at the ANC’s 53rd national conference are preparing to cast their ballots.

Gwede Mantashe, Cyril Ramaphosa and Paul Mashatile who have accepted nomination for Postition of Secretary general, Deputy President and Treasurer respectively at the ANC's elective conference. Picture: GCIS.

MANGAUNG - Delegates at the ANC's 53rd national conference in Mangaung are preparing to cast their ballots for leadership positions on Monday evening.

Earlier, the nomination process was finalised with the announcement of candidates for the ruling party's top six positions.

There were withdrawals by at least five candidates, with Kgalema Motlanthe declining a nomination for the post of deputy president.

Instead, he will go head-to-head with President Jacob Zuma for the ANC's top job.

Delegates filed back to the main tent as the electoral commission prepared for voting.

Several ministers and trade unionists already passed the security checkpoint, including National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega.

The atmosphere was a lot calmer than the nomination process itself, which saw delegates singing in support of certain leaders.

Eyewitness News was told that voting would most likely get underway in the evening.

BATTLE LINES DRAWN

Several provincial leaders were nominated to serve in the top six, including Gauteng ANC chairperson Paul Mashatile and his KwaZulu-Natal counterpart, Zweli Mkhize.

Both Mashatile and Mkhize were nominated for the position of treasurer general.

Free State ANC chairperson Ace Magashule was nominated for the position of chairperson, but he told delegates he would withdraw as a candidate in favour of incumbent Baleka Mbete, urging his supporters to vote for her instead.

Political analyst Adam Habib predicted that Zuma will win convincingly when votes are counted.

"Zuma is going to get an overwhelming endorsement. I don't think it is going to be a 60-40 (Zuma vs Motlanthe). It is probably going to be 80-20 or 85-15."

Cyril Ramaphosa will have to fight off challenges from Mathews Phosa and Tokyo Sexwale for the position of Deputy President.

Gwede Mantashe is up against Fikile Mbalula for the powerful role of secretary general.

ANC veteran Jessie Duarte will stand unopposed for deputy secretary general.

Meanwhile, the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) said it was unfazed by the resounding support Zuma received during the nomination process.

The League believes Motlanthe will successfully contest for the position of ANC president.

Over the last few months, the ANCYL has been actively campaigning for Motlanthe.

The Young Lions were one of the ANC structures that nominated him for the post.

Acting President Ronald Lamola says the hand-claps and pro-Zuma songs being sung at the conference do not mean anything.

"For us, voting is not [about] clapping of hands and singing - it is by secret ballot. I think it will produce what we expect."