Predicting a president: polls, speculation, and analyses


African National Congress (ANC) Gauteng and Limpopo provincial working committees (PWC) "discussed challenges facing the ruling party.

JOHANNESBURG - Speculation on who will claim the top position at the ANC National Conference is heating up as the date rapidly approaches.

One of the ways people are attempting to predict the winner of this heavily contested race is by tallying nominations from branch representatives. 

Branch representatives comprise at least 90 percent of voting delegates at the National Conference, according to the ANC organisational guidelines.

READ: ANC to put an end to slate politics

At the conference, delegates vote for the top six positions as well as for the additional 80 elected National Executive Committee members.

Although voting takes place on an individual basis and is secret, nominations may indicate support prior to the final vote.

Provinces may agree beforehand which group of candidates they want to support for the different positions and expect their delegates to vote for this group.


IMAGE: A visual representation of the nomination process for elected representatives in the ANC.

4,723 voting delegates will attend the conference from the provinces. To emerge victorious, a candidate would have to obtain more than 2,362 votes.

For months prior to the conference, , despite the challenges of collecting accurate data, political commentators and news organisations have attempted to track how voting will swing.

The South African Institute of Race Relations (IRR) did an informal poll of ANC branches and released its findings while cautioning that these findings could not be corroborated.

Nominations do not necessarily translate into votes at the ANC’s elective conference, because delegates could vote for a different candidate than the one nominated by their branch.

“The nature of the race means that high-quality data is difficult to obtain and almost impossible to get officially authenticated,” Frans Cronje, IRR’s chief executive officer, said in their report.

The IRR estimates that current ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa has the support of 2,245 delegates and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma 1,064.

WATCH: The Race: Ramaphosa leads in Limpopo

Dynamic elements like tainted votes, decoy nominations, and internal appeals could influence the final result, not to mention corruption, sabotage or court actions.

The Mail & Guardian published the numbers they had been supplied by supporters of the two leading candidates in the race on Sunday.

Not surprisingly these suggested that both Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Cyril Ramaphosa will receive over 50 percent of the vote.

IMAGE: Projected number of secured votes for the ANC elective conference according to delegates supporting Cyril Ramaphosa and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. Data reported by M&G

According to the IRR information, Ramaphosa holds a strong position after about three-quarters of the party has completed the nomination process: 65 percent backed Ramaphosa and 31 percent Dlamini-Zuma, with the balance supporting other candidates.

Information gleaned by MarkData suggests Ramaphosa leads in Mpumalanga and Limpopo

Researchers interviewed more than 200 ANC voters during September and October in Mpumalanga, with 47 percent of those polled backing Ramaphosa to be ANC president.

Dlamini-Zuma takes the second spot with 16 percent.

Seventy-seven percent of Limpopo voters want Ramaphosa as ANC president with just 3 percent supporting Dlamini-Zuma.

Dlamini-Zuma, the former chairwoman of the African Union Commission, is expected to be solidly backed by the North West province and the Free State. 

As it stands Ramaphosa leads in Mpumalanga and the Western Cape, while Dlamini-Zuma is the top contender in KwaZulu-Natal.

KwaZulu-Natal has been pinpointed as less secure than previously believed by analysts.

“You must not underestimate the campaign of Cyril Ramaphosa in KZN and the KwaZulu-Natal province is not united. The issues that divide them hasn’t only got to do with who replaces President Jacob Zuma, it has to do with the province itself,” political commentator Karima Brown said.

Three key ANC branches in KwaZulu-Natal have missed the party’s deadline to nominate a new leadership.

Two of them apparently support Ramaphosa, while the third branch remains hotly contested.

Whatever the predictions may be before the conference, the ultimate result remains to be seen.