The ANC’s December conference lobbying in the region took a new twist on Thursday when Msunduzi Municipality was accused of offering jobs to pro-Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma branch members to influence the nomination process.Branch nominations for the preferred candidates to be elected in the highly anticipated conference are set to begin soon.ANC sources said the City has given jobs to over 80 ANC branch leaders in attempts to consolidate Dlamini-Zuma support in the region, which appears to be running out of steam with rumours of high-ranking politicians jumping ship to join either the Cyril Ramaphosa or Zweli Mkhize campaigns.The branch members, who include ANC branch secretaries and activists, have been employed as meter readers on a one-year contract.An insider said each ANC councillor was allowed to come forward with four branch members that were to be employed.“They are trying to keep control of the branches by any means. This will create problems after the conference because these people will demand permanent employment after the end of their contract.“They are giving false hope to these people and this city will burn if they do not get permanent jobs at the end of their contracts.“This is not the first time this has happened in this municipality. When they were hiring EPWP [Extended Public Works Programme] workers, they only hired people who were in their camp.“They did not follow the regulations of the grant. This creates problems at the end of the day because deserving people are overlooked to accommodate branch leaders.”Another source said he expected the trend to continue until the December conference.“They will just throw jobs to increase the support base. The regional leadership is losing control of branches so offering jobs is another way of keeping those who are vocal quiet. Some activists will also abuse this opportunity for their personal gain.“It is called the silly season for a reason. People will be demanding jobs and tenders, promising to bring numbers of supporters from the branches.”A known Ramaphosa supporter, who asked not to be named, said the practice was equivalent to buying votes.“Obviously some of these branch members are unemployed so they will do whatever they can to earn a living. They will sell their votes to the highest bidder. Those in control of the resources at the municipality will try to advance their agendas using taxpayers’ money.“At the end of the day this defeats the whole purpose of saying the branches must choose the ANC leader. In reality the branches do not choose the leader, it is those who are in control of the resources,” he said.Attempts to get comment from municipal spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha were unsuccessful.She did not respond to queries and did not answer her phone.ANC regional secretary Mzi Zuma also did not answer his phone.