A unity initiative by Mpumalanga ANC chairperson David Mabuza could put a spanner in the works as ANC leaders campaign to be president of the party.Mabuza yesterday united five chairs of ANC provinces and pushed them to come up with a consensus leadership and ignore the lists – known as slates – compiled by the lobbyists of Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Mathews Phosa, Lindiwe Sisulu, Baleka Mbete and Jeff Radebe. Mabuza’s campaign to do away with slate politics and have an uncontested national conference in December has been endorsed by the chairs of the Free State, North West, Gauteng, and strife-torn KwaZulu-Natal, as well as the leagues.All these chairpeople lead provinces that will send more than 2 500 delegates to the conference, which suggests that they might have their way when the approximately 5 000 delegates sit in less than three months.Mabuza – who enjoys the support of his provincial ANC structures – has avoided jumping into the presidential succession debate and said he would rather spend energy on uniting the organisation. His provincial executive committee wanted him to be the deputy president of the organisation, but that talk has died down since he began talking about unity.Supra Mahumapelo (North West chairperson and premier), Ace Magashule (Free State chairperson and premier), Paul Mashatile (Gauteng chairperson) and Willies Mchunu (KwaZulu-Natal deputy chairperson and premier) attended the Mpumalanga provincial general council (PGC) yesterday and threw their weight behind Mabuza.A video in which Mabuza’s unity speeches were featured among those delivered by stalwarts such as Oliver Tambo, Albert Luthuli and former Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda, was played to the delegates at the general council.The clip also shows ANC national chairperson Baleka Mbete and Ramaphosa lauding Mabuza for his initiative on unity.Mahumapelo said that Mpumalanga had made history as the first province that has invited others to unite.He said that, for unity to be achieved, the conference must agree that the election of the top six ANC officials must not be contested.“The organisation must speak with one voice, and we must speak among ourselves as family before we go outside. We can see the unity, and would like to thank the Almighty God for saving him [Mabuza] for the organisation,” Mahumapelo said.Mashatile said he wished the PGC was a national conference because of the unity it displayed. “Comrades are already campaigning,” he said, referring to Ramaphosa, Dlamini-Zuma and Phosa. “It’s fine, but we will call [on] them and engage [with] them [to] identify the best among us to lead us. No winner takes all … that era has ended."Let’s start now to say no slate in the conference. They say that, when we talk of unity, we’re looking for a third way. "There’s only one way in the ANC and let’s nominate leaders who will unite us, and let’s leave factions and go in one way,” Mashatile said.Magashule said the root cause of the organisation’s problems was money and a lack of commitment to the organisation.Magashule said many ANC comrades who participated in the liberation struggle were jobless, but were still loyal to the ANC.Mchunu said Mpumalanga was “way ahead whether we like it or not”, and said his strife-torn province would emulate what Mabuza had done.