With the ANC Moses Mabhida regional elective conference around the corner, the party’s leadership contest is fast turning into a two-horse race between former education MEC Mthandeni Dlungwane and ANC MPL Thulani “Two-Ways” Xulu.Xulu, who is the current ANC Moses Mabhida Regional convener, is widely perceived as a President Cyril Ramaphosa supporter while Dlungwane is seen as a former President Jacob Zuma supporter.While both the Xulu and the Dlungwane camps are open to a unity deal that will avoid a bruising battle by allowing candidates to stand uncontested, the two dominant factions in the region disagree on who should become the region’s new chairperson.The Dlungwane camp, which appears to be currently riding the crest of the wave powered by the recent uptick in Zuma support in the province, is unwavering in its demand that the former MEC should be the next chairperson.“We don’t have a problem with comrade Two-Ways. “We will definitely support him but for the position of deputy regional chairperson, with comrade Mtha [Dlungwane] as the chairperson,” a source within the Zuma camp said.Dlungwane previously served as the ANC Moses Mabhida regional chairperson.The Xulu camp, which insists that Xulu should be the next regional chairperson, was of the view that during his term as ANC regional chairperson, Dlungwane failed to unite ANC factions and did very little to prevent the collapse of ANC-controlled municipalities such as Msunduzi. “It’s not that we have anything against him but the fact of the matter is that the ANC is currently under pressure to demonstrate that the mistakes of the past will not be repeated. “Our view is that since comrade Two-Ways has not been part of the previous leadership set-up, the people of the Moses Mabhida region, including those outside the ANC, were likely to give him a chance. “We don’t mind if comrade Mtha can be elected to any of the top five positions but making him the chairperson will not help the ANC win back the people’s confidence,” a source within the Xulu camp said.Should the stalemate between the Dlungwane and the Xulu camp scontinue, then the two political heavyweights in the region are likely to slug it out at the conference, a situation that could leave the ANC in the region divided in the middle after the conference.Rumours that supporters of Msunduzi Municipality Mayor Mzi Thebolla want him to stand for the position of ANC regional chairperson has also laid the ground for a fierce contest.Thebolla, who currently serves as a member of the ANC RTT, was brought into the Msunduzi Municipality by the ANC provincial leadership as part of efforts to stabilise the troubled local government. The Msunduzi mayor’s supporters were of the view that the only way to guarantee continuity in the council was to ensure that Thebolla was elected to an influential position within the ANC in the region.“History has shown us that having two centres of power was a recipe for disaster as the two centres had in the past failed to pull together.“In the short space of time in which he had served as Msunduzi mayor he had proved to be a capable leader,” a Thebolla supporter said.While Xulu denied that the leadership race had already started, he agreed that it was only a unity leadership that could strengthen the ANC in the region. “It is of critical importance for the ANC to ensure that the leadership that emerges at the conference reflects the dynamics in the region. “As the ANC in the Moses Mabhida region we have to see to it that the leadership that will be elected at the conference is the kind of a leadership that will be embraced by all ANC branches in the region,” he said.