The battle of numbers
Mpumalanga ANC chairperson David Mabuza will marshal his forces to the party’s December conference a confident man with the latest tally of delegates showing that he is the ultimate kingmaker.
Mabuza’s province is now the second biggest after KwaZulu-Natal, according to the latest figures from Luthuli House sent to provinces this week.
At 736 delegates, this means that its membership has jumped so much that it has now replaced the Eastern Cape as the second most influential province.
Mpumalanga will send 88 more delegates than the Eastern Cape, which has been allocated 648 delegates.
A divided KwaZulu-Natal is still firmly leading the pack with a delegation of 870. However, this is 108 less than the number of its delegates at the 2012 conference.
Limpopo is fourth with 643 delegates, followed by North West which has doubled its delegates to 538.
The new status of kingmaker for Mpumalanga comes on the back of investigations by the ANC after it received allegations of bogus membership and manipulation to increase the number of delegates from a particular branch during elective conferences and branch general meetings.
Other provinces that were under scrutiny over “ghost” membership, include KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Limpopo.
This raises questions on how much the manipulation contributed to the spike in members or whether this was due to the hard work put in with recruitment drives by provinces over the past few months.
Now that the province is the second-biggest stronghold, it gives Mabuza an upper hand in negotiations with other provincial leaders to find consensus in leadership and avoid a bruising contest.
Mabuza has been on a charm offensive campaigning for unity, together with Gauteng chairperson Paul Mashatile, who will lead the fifth-biggest delegation of 508.
Although KwaZulu-Natal is still the largest voting bloc, unlike in the last two conferences where it was united on Zuma’s candidacy, its support is now split three-ways between Cyril Ramaphosa, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Zweli Mkhize.