Three prominent ANC figures are set to face off in a contest for the position of deputy chairperson when the ANC in Gauteng heads to its provincial conference, expected to sit in June.Campaigning for MEC for education Panyaza Lesufi, former Johannesburg mayor Parks Tau and MEC for agriculture Lebogang Maile has got under way. Major changes are expected in the top six of the province following the exit of a number of leaders – Paul Mashatile, Gwen Ramokgopa, Barbara Creecy and Nkenke Kekana – who all got promoted to national last year.City Press has learnt that supporters of front runner Maile want to unseat Premier David Makhura, a move that could upset a plan which was intent on keeping Makhura in that post for two terms before Maile took over.Maile currently serves in the provincial executive committee (PEC) and is also the MEC for economic development in the province.But there was still strong lobbying that the succession plan remain as is and that Makhura was expected to be elected as provincial chairperson at the conference, succeeding now ANC treasurer-general Paul Mashatile.A concerted effort will be made to pile pressure on senior leaders to make room for the young guns, and it is Maile who is set to benefit from a growing demand from the youth league for a seat at the table.In what has been described by insiders as a “special provincial general council in disguise”, on Thursday evening, the leadership of Gauteng convened secretaries and chairpersons of regions for a meeting at City Hall in Johannesburg. The agenda of the meeting was not made known, putting Makhura, who is acting as chairperson in the province, in the hot seat. City Press has learnt from those who attended that the meeting was a ploy to test the waters ahead of the provincial conference. Dates for regional conferences and the provincial conference itself were fielded. The proposed date for the regional conferences is 15 to 17 June, and 22 to 24 June for the provincial conference.Lesufi – who enjoys public support for a no-nonsense approach to challenges faced by schools in Gauteng –rejected a nomination to the ANCs national executive committee at Nasrec last year, in what was believed to be an indication that he wanted to contest within the province. His campaign, however, is on the back foot with his home region Ekurhuleni believed to be backing Maile, who is close to current chairperson Mzwandile Masina. Despite a revolt against Masina in recent months, it now appears he will be uncontested after extending an olive branch to those who opposed him. While there was an appetite from current deputy secretary Petrus Mabunda to challenge Masina, City Press heard there are negotiations under way to try to go to conference uncontested. The view was that continuous wrangling and even a contested conference may cost the ANC the metro, which is currently governed by a fragile coalition. In Johannesburg, Tau, who is the chairperson, has pinned his hopes on becoming deputy chairperson in the province. All indications are that his region has red-carded him. Tau’s backers appear unwilling to settle for a position as an additional member of the PEC and are gunning for the coveted top five post.Current treasurer-general in Johannesburg Geoff Makhubo is expected to throw his name in the hat, in a bid to take over the reins as chairperson.Current regional secretary Dada Morero and Justice Ngalonkulu are the two names that have so far also come up for the regional secretary post.In the West Rand Mzi Khumalo hopes to succeed current chairperson Boysie Maneli, who is eyeing a top-five position in the province. In Tshwane it is expected that a number of senior leaders, including Kgosi Maepa, will make a play for the position of chairperson currently occupied by former mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa.Rocked by sexual abuse allegations, Sedibeng chairman Simon Mofokeng was removed as mayor and replaced with Jacob Khawe. With little chance of being deployed elsewhere, Mofokeng will look to stay put in the region while Khawe will try his luck for the position of secretary of the province, a position currently held by Hope Papo.