Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa is leading the nominations for the ANC presidency with all 9 provinces having completed their provincial general councils.
Ramaphosa is now standing at 1861 branch nominations, while his rival Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has 1309.
This gives him a 552 branch nomination lead, however, the figure excludes 223 Mpumalanga branch nominations that wrote "UNITY" next to the name of the top six delegates.
The "unity" nominations were recorded as abstentions, even though the numbers were higher than those of Ramaphosa and Dlamini-Zuma.
Ramaphosa got the nod from five provinces: Gauteng, Northern Cape, Eastern Cape, Western Cape, and Limpopo. Dlamini-Zuma got majority support from KwaZulu-Natal, North West, Free State and Mpumalanga.
The nomination process was completed with Dlamini-Zuma winning 433 nominations from her home province, but Ramaphosa made inroads in the province, garnering 193 nominations.
Ramaphosa gathered the following nominations per province:
KwaZulu-Natal - 193
Mpumalanga - 117
Limpopo - 391
Gauteng - 374
North West - 44
Northern Cape - 154
Western Cape - 121
Free State - 44
Eastern Cape - 423
Dlamini-Zuma gathered the following nominations per province:
KwaZulu-Natal - 433
Mpumalanga - 123
Limpopo - 104
Gauteng - 64
North West - 291
Northern Cape - 11
Western Cape - 13
Free State - 209
Eastern Cape - 61
'It's not over until it is over'
However, his biggest challenge is that Dlamini-Zuma has the support of the biggest provinces who are sending more delegates to the fiercely contested conference.
The conference will get underway on December 16 in Johannesburg.
While each branch gets to nominate - some branches get more than one vote as the bigger the branch, the more delegates it can send to the conference.
A Dlamini-Zuma campaigner said the nomination process is not a true reflection of what is likely to be the outcome as they expect Mpumalanga's 223 "unity" nominations to vote for her.
"We are counting warm bodies that will be on the conference floor when the conference gets underway, and we have the numbers," he said.
If the unity nominations go to Dlamini-Zuma, Ramaphosa's lead is reduced to just 329. If the ANC Women's League and ANC Youth League, that have officially endorsed Dlamini-Zuma, give her their 60 nominations each, that decreases Ramaphosa's lead by a further 120 as they are expected to get 60 nominations each.
However, Ramaphosa is expected to get sizeable nomibnations from the Veterans league and the national executive committee (NEC) that could push up his numbers.
A senior NEC member said that the final tally will only be clearer when credentials are adopted on the first day of the conference as some branches are still rerunning their branch general meetings to nominate leaders.
"So it is not over until it is over," he said.