Limpopo – ANC Limpopo chairperson Stan Mathabatha has warned that if factions continue to dominate into the party’s national elective conference, it could mean the end for the party."If one of the current factions emerges as a winner and wins everything at the 2017 conference, that faction is going to lead a shell of the African National Congress," said Mathabatha.That was because any winning faction was unlikely to be able to mobilise the support to win the 2019 elections.Mathabatha said the ANC could no longer afford to repeat past mistakes which had resulted in splinter parties like Cope and EFF.Cope emerged following a bitter battle between President Jacob Zuma and former President Thabo Mbeki in 2007.Former ANC Youth League president Julius Malema formed the EFF, after he was expelled from the ANC amidst speculation of a fall-out between the two.The ANC is facing another turbulent leadership contest, with its current deputy president, Cyril Ramaphosa, expected to face off with outgoing African Union chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.2017 conference 'very critical'Slates of preferred candidates for the party’s top six and national executive committee members have emerged with several lists doing the rounds on social media.Mathabatha believes that the 11 months leading up to the ANC’s national conference in December will determine the kind of gathering the party will host. He told News24 the only way forward was to have a united ANC."The 2017 conference will be very critical. It's a turning point for the ANC. Once we commit mistakes there, then the ANC is finished."He said the gender of the next ANC leader was unimportant. Instead, the new head would need to lead the people of South Africa.Mathabatha said he hoped the party would use the policy conference in June to create parameters around the type of leadership it wanted going towards the 2019 elections."Once we can agree, we will produce a leadership that can unite the party," he said.Limpopo is deeply divided over who to back, as the provincial executive conference is split.