Johannesburg – ANC provincial leaders are embroiled in a new battle over the number of delegates they have been allocated for the upcoming elective conference, with KwaZulu-Natal demanding an increase in its delegation size. If the fight is not resolved, it could threaten the conference due to get underway next Saturday. News24 understands that the KwaZulu-Natal ANC's leadership demanded more delegates during a meeting between provincial leaders and secretary-general Gwede Mantashe. The province, which backs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to take over the party's presidency after President Jacob Zuma, has the highest number of delegates allocated at 870.ALSO READ: Phosa leads court bid to stop 'unity' branches’ from going to conferenceProvincial leaders fear that if an agreement is not reached and the formula for delegation sizes is challenged on the first day of the conference when credentials are supposed to be verified, this could collapse the conference before it even gets underway.The Northern Cape said it was aware that "plans are afoot to balloon the delegates of certain provinces including KwaZulu-Natal". It said it would fiercely contest any changes to an already adopted formula.1 delegate per 100 branch members"The Northern Cape will fight this tooth and nail. We believe the current criteria used to allocate delegates is correct and protects even small provinces from abuse by bigger provinces using their membership superiority," provincial spokesperson Deshi Ngxanga told News24.According to a formula agreed to by the ANC's national executive committee, each branch gets one delegate for its first 100 members. A branch then qualifies for an extra delegate for the next 250 members. However, the formula ensures that there is a cap that keeps each province's delegate numbers in proportion to the province's total membership and the party's national membership.WATCH: How does the ANC's election process work?"The criteria was introduced to avoid a situation where bigger provinces could just increase their membership to a point where their delegation to national conference could be used to strong-arm and muzzle other provinces," Ngxanga said.News24 understands that if the cap is removed, KwaZulu-Natal would qualify to send a hundred more delegates.KwaZulu-Natal spokesperson Super Zuma confirmed that the province wants its numbers increased, but refused to go into detail, saying the matter was being dealt with "internally".Zuma said the provincial ANC didn't want a new formula to be applied but wanted the current one to be "interpreted properly".'No final numbers'"I am not intending to respond to what the other provinces are saying because we presented that matter in a meeting where the other provinces were there. In that meeting, it was properly explained."He said the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal asked that the matter be looked at ahead of the elective conference so that it is not raised there.North West chairperson Supra Mahumapelo said the official figures would only be determined after the final reruns of branch general meetings and the verification process was completed.Verification requires that signatures on the branch meeting register match the signatures of members on their membership forms to avoid what is called a "signature campaign", which involves the collecting of fake signatures."Anyone who says they know the exact final numbers is misleading you. The closest numbers will be on Tuesday and the final, final ones on 16 December at conference after [the verification of] credentials," Mahumapelo said.Gauteng is expected to join the Northern Cape against KwaZulu-Natal's bid to have its numbers increased.Ramaphosa is leading nationwide branch nominations, however, it is individual delegates who will vote at the conference. Candidates stand a better chance of winning if backed by bigger branches that get to bring more delegates.Visit our special report, #ANCVotes, for all the news, analysis and opinions about the ANC’s national elective conference.