Johannesburg - ANC Eastern Cape chairperson Phumulo Masualle ducked questions on Thursday about whether he would be standing for re-election at the party's provincial conference.
Masualle, who is pitted against his secretary, Oscar Mabuyane, told journalists that he did not know whether he had been nominated for a third term.
Flanked by Mabuyane, Masualle was addressing journalists on the eve of party's provincial elective conference.
He said another candidate could be nominated from the floor.
Mabuyane is considered the leading contender for the position of chairperson in the province. He is said to be in support of presidential hopeful Cyril Ramaphosa, who may be closing the provincial conference on Sunday.
Masualle said the province was deliberate in its position against making pronouncements on a presidential candidate.
'All systems go'
He told journalists that the province was undecided on who to back because of the rigorous campaigning by the seven candidates.
Reacting to calls for an uncontested national conference by Gauteng chair Paul Mashatile and Mpumalanga's David Mabuza, Masualle said in principle the suggestion would be ideal, however, "the doing was something else that needed engagement".
He said the province had been engaging with other provinces on how to approach the conferences and that the Eastern Cape was ready for its elective conference.
"At this point we can confirm that it’s all systems go. As you would know, the work of conference is preceded by branches of the ANC that have to participate in the process starting from verification, the audits and everything else. We need to have a good number of branches [to enable] us to proceed with the conference."
At least 568 branches out of 634 will be accredited for the conference after they passed audits. This is above the constitutional requirement of 70%, Masualle said.
Mabuyane said 1 700 delegates would be voting in the conference.
The provincial executive committee met for hours with the national executive committee to comb through last-minute details, Masualle said.
Mabuyane dismissed as founded claims that delegates were disputing the validity of the conference, which has been postponed three times.
He said the party's deadlines for branch audits were flexible to ensure every corner of the province was represented.
"From where we are the process has been quite transparent and quite detailed... to ensure we get to the bottom of everything."