Johannesburg - Nominations for the next ANC leadership have officially been opened for branches in at least six provinces, secretary general Gwede Mantashe said on Tuesday. Mantashe said the party has concluded branch audits for Limpopo, Gauteng, Northern Cape, Free State, Mpumalanga and North West. However, the party is yet to complete audits for KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Western Cape. The audits determine the number of branches in good standing and the number of delegates that will represent each province at the elective conference. However, Mantashe has dismissed suggestions that the conference could be postponed. "I don't think we have a train smash around branch audits. People who have appeals must do them within 48 hours of the branch general meetings being held," Mantashe said. The party will be holding its hotly contested national elective conference from 16 to 20 December in Johannesburg to elect new top six officials and national executive committee members. In an attempt to end slate voting that has plagued the elective process, Mantashe said the provinces will not have the power to overturn the will of the branches.'Slates'Instead, branch nominations will be sealed and opened at the provincial general councils, with the electoral agencies present."So we will not allow a situation where branches make a nomination by a big number then the provincial general council votes and changes that nomination. That is an attempt to deal with the slates," Mantashe told journalists during a briefing at Luthuli House.Provincial members of legislatures and members of Parliament will be deployed to oversee the branch general meetings to nominate leadership.The run up to provincial leadership nominations has been marred by violence, interruptions and claims of irregularities.Mantashe said the party will act against any "undemocratic tendencies"."ANC directs all structures that the business of branches is conducted in an environment that is free from intimidation and intolerance. Harsh action will be taken against any form of ill discipline and the ANC will not hesitate to curb undemocratic tendencies," Mantashe said. At least seven party leaders are contending the party's presidency with Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and NEC member Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma widely seen as front runners. Other presidential hopefuls include treasurer general Zweli Mkhize, NEC member Lindiwe Sisulu, former treasurer general Mathews Phosa, speaker Baleka Mbete and party head of policy Jeff Radebe. This is the highest number of ANC presidential candidates post apartheid. Mantashe said the nomination envelopes by branches will only be opened in front of the electoral agency and provincial leadership at provincial general councils which traditionally determined province nominations. "Every effort shall be made to ensure that branch nominations are not tampered with and that the will of branches is reflected and respected," he said.