Voting at South Africa’s African National Congress (ANC) elective conference commenced at about midnight on Sunday, after an earlier announcement that the voting process was postponed to Monday morning.
Voting was scheduled to begin in the afternoon on Sunday with the announcement of the new top six leadership slated for early hours on Monday.
The conference started late on Saturday afternoon after a special National Executive Committee meeting was convened following the last minute court ruling which ordered that delegates nominated at Provincial Electoral Conferences in KwaZulu-Natal as well as the Free State could not vote.
35 branches in the North West were also disqualified following a court ruling, according to outgoing ANC deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte.
Ramaphosa vs Dlamini-Zuma
The race for the top job is between former African Union Commission chairperson and ex-wife of President Jacob Zuma, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Ramaphosa who founded South Africa’s biggest union, the National Union of Mineworkers, is favoured by business as well as the trade union federation Cosatu.
Cosatu declared Ramaphosa as its candidate earlier in the year stating that it believed he would further the interest of workers. During nominations at the elective conference in Johannesburg, Ramaphosa had a firm lead against his opponent Dlamini-Zuma with 1469 branch nominations to her 1094.
First woman president?
If chosen to lead the ANC, Dlamini-Zuma would make history as the first female president of the organisation and possibly of the country in 2019. She previously made her mark as the first female African Union Commission chair when she took over the position in 2012.
She has been lauded for her work as the Minister of Health and Home Affairs under former President Thabo Mbeki.
Lindiwe Sisulu, daughter of ANC stalwart Walter Sisulu and cabinet minister under Mbeki and Zuma as well member of parliament since 1994, and David Mabuza, a member of ANC National Executive Committee since 2007, are the two candidates for the position of deputy president.
Immediate past ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe stands against Art and Culture Minister, Nathi Mthethwa, for the position of chairperson while the secretary general position is contested by former Kwazulu Natal premier Senzo Mchunu and Free State Premier Ace Magashule.
The current ANC deputy secretary general Jesse Duarte is standing again for her position against Cosatu’s second deputy president Zingiswa Losi while former Gauteng premier, Paul Mashatile and International Relations and Cooperation minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane are vying for the treasurer general seat at the top six.
The ANC said 4,776 delegates were accredited to vote with the winning threshold fixed at 2,389 votes.
As well as electing the new leaders the ANC will also set policy priorities for the run-up to the 2019 election.
Voting closes. Vote counting in progress.