Deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe has accepted his nomination for ANC president and will square up against incumbent Jacob Zuma in Mangaung.
"The ANC electoral commission has contacted the deputy president to let him know he has been nominated for three positions and he confirmed he will accept them all," Motlanthe's spokesperson Thabo Masebe told the Mail & Guardian on Thursday.
Motlanthe was nominated for the position of president, deputy president and national executive committee (NEC) member of the ANC.
"I must however make it very clear that this is not about the deputy president going up against anyone or challenging anyone – it's about allowing the branches of the ANC to have a voice," Masebe added.
"He has always made it very clear that he will serve the ANC in any position he is called on to do so by its members."
The news comes barely an hour after the ANC electoral commission – the body responsible for carrying out elections for the ruling party – announced that nominees for ANC leadership positions will only be announced when the elective conference officially gets underway.
"The process of nominations is still underway. Once it is fully concluded, we will announce the candidates," the commission's chairperson, Mochubela Seekoe, told reporters in Johannesburg on Thursday.
Specialist election agency Elexion was appointed to handle the logistics of the conference and are still busy vetting the nominees, according to the commission.
"We need to make sure all is in order before we proceed but the branches of the ANC will know this before anyone else," commission member Tshilidzi Ratshitanga said.
The ANC Youth League – an ardent supporter of Motlanthe – announced the news of Motlanthe accepting his nomination earlier in the day, but the deputy president did not confirm this until now.
"Comrade Kgalema Motlanthe, a fearless leader who refused to be intimidated and stood by ANC principle, is indeed the future of the ANC and the future of South Africa," read a statement from the league.
President Jacob Zuma is currently enjoying an overwhelming lead over Motlanthe in branch nominations and will more than likely be elected party president for a second term should the duo square off, according to nominations tabled so far.
Motlanthe has previously shied away from accepting any nomination.
The commission also made it clear that candidates could stand for multiple positions if nominated.
"If anyone is nominated for more than one post, voting will take place position by position," Seekoe said.
This means if a candidate contested to become president as well as deputy president, the vote for president would take place first and determine if the vote for deputy would take place.
This could see Motlanthe being returned to the deputy presidency if he loses against Zuma in the battle to become ANC president.
But this would be unlikely if business mogul Cyril Ramaphosa accepts his nomination for the post after having received close to 2 000 provincial branch nominations.
Only the Northern Cape has nominated Motlanthe for deputy.
Until now only Matthews Phosa confirmed his acceptance of his nomination, despite nominations not being formally tabled yet.
Phosa was nominated as deputy president after receiving backing from the ANC Youth League and over 300 branch nominations.
But the commission said they have no issue with candidates announcing their nominations before the nomination process is finalised.
"Candidates are free to interact with ANC branches and the media on any perspective nomination. We can't control that and they will not be punished for doing so," Ratshitanga said.