Johannesburg — Kgalema Motlanthe's acceptance of a nomination to the ANC's top seat does not change who will win or lose, political analyst Steven Friedman said on Wednesday night.
"I think Mr Motlanthe knows that. The ANC's president is chosen by the branches and the branches have overwhelmingly voted for Mr [Jacob] Zuma," he said, on the sidelines of a panel debate at Constitution Hill.
"What it does change, which is a challenge for the ANC, is that because you have a contested election it now becomes possible that people at Mangaung will question whether certain delegates or delegations are allowed to be there, which the ANC was aiming to avoid by having an uncontested election."
He said African National Congress treasurer Mathews Phosa and Sports Minister Fikile Mbabula's acceptance of nominations - for deputy president and secretary general respectively - was an attempt to test strength.
"Phosa and Mbalula are both members of what we call the nationalist faction within the ANC," said Friedman.
"I think that the idea of contesting [secretary general Gwede] Mantashe is an attempt to test his strength."
He said unless hundreds of delegates at the party's elective conference ignored what their branches had decided, Zuma would be re-elected as president.
Nomination conferences by the ruling party's nine provincial branches and three leagues ended on Thursday, nearly a week after the deadline.
KwaZulu-Natal, Free State, Northern Cape, Eastern Cape, North West and Mpumalanga nominated Zuma for a second term as party president. The ANC Womens League also wanted Zuma in the top seat.
Gauteng, Limpopo, the Western Cape, and the ANC Youth League nominated Motlanthe.
Earlier, several media groups reported that Motlanthe had accepted nominations for the top post.
Motlanthe's spokesman Thabo Masebe declined to confirm the reports, but said the party's electoral commission would make an announcement on Thursday.
Phosa confirmed to Sapa that he had accepted the nomination for the second top seat.
"I've accepted the nomination by the ANC branches... I am abiding by what they [the ANC branches] put forward to me."