If you believe the supporters of ANC MP and presidential hopeful Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, she has already secured 2 911 votes ahead of the ANC’s elective conference – giving her a comfortable lead over her rival, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa. If you believe Ramaphosa’s detailed data, he has 2 760 votes – also more than enough to win the race.There are three weeks to go before the elective conference gets under way at Nasrec, south west of Johannesburg, and with branch nominations closing today, the propaganda machines have moved into full throttle. Both sides have been busy playing psychological games, claiming that they have surpassed the magical 2 500 figure needed to secure victory at the conference, which will be attended by 4 723 voting delegates. Some of the delegates will come from the ANC women’s and youth leagues.While Ramaphosa’s team has, for weeks now, been forthcoming with detailed breakdowns of what they claim to be results from branch general meetings, the Dlamini-Zuma camp has been more reticent. It is only this week that her backers came forward to counter this narrative with its own optimistic numbers. Meetings of the provincial general councils have already begun, with more of them set to take place this week.These councils will consolidate nominations in the provinces and pronounce on the candidate preferred by the province.It is expected that the Western Cape, the Eastern Cape, the Northern Cape, Limpopo and Gauteng will all back Ramaphosa.The Free State, the North West and KwaZulu-Natal are expected to support Dlamini-Zuma.Mpumalanga is still the mystery province as its chair and premier, David Mabuza, has been cagey on the matter. The youth and women’s leagues are counted as provinces in the conference.NO SLEEPLESS NIGHTS Insiders in the Dlamini-Zuma campaign told City Press this week that even investors who were previously hostile towards their campaign have been reaching out for talks because they now recognise her chances of securing a win.While certain of a victory, the Dlamini-Zuma camp said they were having “sleepless nights” over the possibility of yet another split in the ANC.“Remember, our candidate has been the only one to emphasise that she will stay on in the party even if she does not make it,” said a lobbyist. “Up until now Cyril has not made that pronouncement. We know that we have won already, and that is why we are coming out with the figures. "What we don’t want is another split in the organisation. We are concerned that those from the other side have already let it slip that they would leave the ANC if our candidate wins.”A member of the national executive committee (NEC) loyal to Dlamini-Zuma cautioned against the camp’s numbers, saying they were slightly inflated.“Ramaphosa will pass the 2 000 mark, if I am being honest. There are two provinces where we have given ourselves too much credit, but even so we are going to win at the conference. That part is a done deal,” said the NEC member.The insider also conceded to unexpected victories by the Ramaphosa camp in places like the Free State, which was considered a Dlamini-Zuma stronghold because the province’s chair and premier, Ace Magashule, has been pushing the slate.The Dlamini-Zuma camp has also taken issue with what they deem to be “abuse” of ANC social-media pages, claiming that they have been promoting Ramaphosa’s events even when they are “factional”.“We have approached the communications team about it. We cannot be having people in Siyavuma shirts all over official ANC pages."When we meet comrade Cyril in the NEC, he is not the campaign head of Siyavuma, he is the deputy president of the ANC, so we must not allow abuse of those pages. It sends the wrong message to our members,” a lobbyist said.CHRISTMAS VIGILCertain of victory, the Ramaphosa camp is said to be planning a strategy meeting immediately after the elective conference ends on December 20 to finalise a road map for the following few months. The plan is to have the meeting sit until Christmas Eve.The meeting will work on a draft message for the January 8 anniversary statement and then work out how to exercise power moving forward, including in areas of governance. City Press understands that while the Ramaphosa side is confident it will win, it has been kept busy this week logging disputes and appeals particularly in KwaZulu-Natal, where it is expected that some branch general meetings will be instructed to go for a re-run. NEC deployees to that province are likely to be sitting even today listening to grievances about the meetings, which, the camp says, have been run irregularly and, in some cases, were prevented from sitting at all. ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said this week that teams had gone all over the country to look into appeals.“We dealing with disputes as branch general meetings (BGMs) are being run. We are being pushed to reconvene those meetings,” he said, declining to say exactly how many grievances had been lodged.ZUMA’S LAST SUPPERIn an unexpected twist this week, outgoing ANC president Jacob Zuma – believed to be backing Dlamini Zuma – hosted a dinner for all seven presidential hopefuls in a gathering dubbed “the last supper”.Although regarded with suspicion by supporters of some of the candidates, Zuma insists that the meeting was in the interests of ensuring unity and holding a dignified campaign and conference.“This comes after I had first raised the matter with the officials of the ANC as an outgoing president of the ANC, taking into account the activities of the campaigning that is being done within the organisation and what is happening – and taking into account the example of what comrades have done in one or two other conference in the past, I was worried about the coming conference, which is being looked at very seriously not only by the ANC but also by the world,” Zuma said, refusing to elaborate on his concerns regarding this conference.Insiders said the candidates were invited on Wednesday by Zuma, who is said not to have done much talking but to have allowed them to converse among themselves.THE DARK HORSES HOLDING OUTLobbyists of another presidential hopeful, treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize, this week also expressed deep concerns with the running of BGMs in eThekwini, KwaZulu-Natal’s biggest region.They say they have been presenting evidence showing bullying and intimidation at BGMs which were supposed to nominate Mkhize. They claim that, in some instances, Metro police were used to intimidate members.Although Mkhize’s name has not gained much popularity for the top job, he appears as deputy president, as does Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, yet another presidential hopeful.And, although Mkhize was initially touted to be the deputy on the Ramaphosa side – and later dropped – his lobbyists say that he is appearing on the Dlamini-Zuma slate as her deputy in KwaZulu-Natal.BREAKING WITH TRADITIONThe ANC announced that the party would break with the tradition of voting for the top six positions in one go, and instead have the presidential election first before moving on to the other five positions.“Previously, people have gone to the conference with six names. As part of abolishing slates this time around, we say, we will elect the president’s position first and then announce it,” ANC spokesperson and NEC member Zizi Kodwa told City Press yesterday.“Then you ask the one who did not make it: ‘Are you available for deputy president?’“Usually if a slate wins, the one who loses does not even have a chance to be deputy because they are not on the other slate. So, it is an attempt to abolish slates.“It has to be adopted at conference. It is an NEC desire which we hope conference will adopt. It was, of course, discussed at the last sitting."It is not a constitutional amendment; it is an election process which the election agency will facilitate if conference accepts,” Kodwa said.The ANC Youth League’s KwaZulu-Natal chairperson, Kwazi Mshengu – a Dlamini-Zuma supporter – said this week that they had no issue with the proposal, but added that it was by no means an automatic appointment.“We have no issue allowing that process, but if that person decides to stand for deputy president, conference will still vote them into the position, so they could still lose out. It is not automatic.”NEC member and Dlamini-Zuma supporter Pule Mabe welcomed Zuma’s dinner initiative, saying it had been done in the spirit of unity.