Johannesburg - Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa is leading the nominations for the ANC presidency, after all nine provinces completed their provincial general councils.
Ramaphosa now has 1 861 branch nominations, compared to Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma's 1 309.
It means he has a 552-branch nomination lead.
However, the figure excludes the 223 Mpumalanga branch nominations, where the word "unity" was written 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 has the nod from five provinces: Gauteng, Northern Cape, Eastern Cape, Western Cape, and Limpopo.
Dlamini-Zuma has the most support from KwaZulu-Natal, North West, Free State and Mpumalanga.
The nomination process was completed when Dlamini-Zuma won 433 nominations from her home province. However, Ramaphosa made inroads, 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, Ramaphosa's toughest 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 under way on December 16 in Johannesburg.
While each branch gets to nominate – some branches get more than one vote. The bigger the branch, the more delegates it can send to the conference.
A Dlamini-Zuma campaigner said the nomination process was not a true reflection of what was likely to be the outcome as they expect Mpumalanga’s 223 “unity” nominations to be in her favour.
“We are counting warm bodies that will be on the conference floor when the conference gets under way, 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 nominations from the Veteran's League and the national executive committee (NEC) that could push up his numbers.
A senior NEC member said 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.