Senior leaders within the EFF were for weeks locked in talks with former national chairperson advocate Dali Mpofu, trying to dissuade him from contesting the position of deputy president.
But in the end his attempt at second-in-command fell short after he could not muster the minimum number of votes required to be eligible.
EFF leader Julius Malema was nominated unopposed, while deputy president Floyd Shivambu also retained his post in the top six.
The remaining four positions were widely expected to be occupied by new faces and this was the case as Veronica Mente became national chairperson, Marshall Dlamini was voted secretary general and Poppy Mailola took up the post of deputy secretary general, while Omphile Maotwe became treasurer general.
All six positions were uncontested.
City Press has learnt that during a 25-minute break granted to delegates to caucus yesterday, Gauteng provincial chairperson Mandisa Mashego handed out a slate to her province, which included Mpofu’s.
Gauteng brought with it 511 delegates.
Mashego herself appeared on the slate as secretary-general.
Also on the slate was former deputy secretary-general Hlengiwe Mkhaliphi for secretary-general and central command team member Mente for chairperson.
Mente’s name has consistently been the favourite for chairperson.
Sources close to the discussions said senior leaders held numerous talks with Mpofu and tried to reason with the former chairperson, advising him that the decision to contest would be detrimental the party.
They claim that Mpofu’s reason for giving serious consideration to contesting Shivambu was that it was good for democracy and that he thought that the incumbent was weak and not suited for the position.
City Press understands that Mpofu was allegedly approached by at least two provincial EFF leaders who urged him to stand for election as Malema’s deputy.
The provincial leaders are said to have pledged their support for Mpofu at a series of caucuses ahead of this weekend’s national people’s assembly.
Sources privy to the discussions with Mpofu told City Press that the provincial leaders assured the former chairperson that they would defend him in the event that the party’s leadership took exception to him contesting Shivambu.
When City Press approached Mpofu, asking him if he had been requested to contest or participate in caucuses, he said he could neither confirm nor deny the allegation.
A senior party member said Mpofu availing himself for the position was problematic.
“Should he win, he will not have time to carry out the duties that come with the position. He has already failed to fulfil the duties of his current position.
“Remember, he was deployed in the Eastern Cape and we had to replace him with someone else because he was never there. That is a strategic province which would have provided a lot of fighters,” said the source.
According to the source, “the spirit of the party would have been extinguished” and it would have taken more than eight months to repair the damage which would follow a contested conference.
The person said a contest would not be in the best interest of the party, especially ahead of the upcoming local government elections.
The faction supporting Mpofu attempted to go against party policy on Friday night to canvass support for the former chairperson, but were hampered by the party’s security, known as the defenders of the revolution.
Malema alluded to the scuffle during a media briefing last night, saying “we only had a small incident yesterday, which was dealt with by security”.
However, he said the incident had nothing to do with conference and was rather about a personal gripe.