ANC Gauteng chairperson and Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile will be at the forefront of the last-minute lobbying of delegates to vote for Kgalema Motlanthe as ANC president. His biggest role is to ensure the removal of Jacob Zuma. It is a move fraught with risk and could cost him a Cabinet position if Zuma is re-elected. He has accepted nomination as the ANC's national chairperson at Mangaung.
The police minister's star has risen in conjunction with Zuma's ascendency. Mthethwa was rewarded with a Cabinet position in 2009 following his hard fight for Zuma after the latter was fired as deputy president in 2005. Affidavits filed in the Constitutional Court by disgruntled Free State ANC members supporting leadership change allege that Mthethwa's deployment to branch meetings was to lock down a pro-Zuma consensus going to Mangaung.
The Limpopo premier was one of the first ANC leaders to call for regime change in the party during Zuma's reign. Mathale's relationship with Zuma further deteriorated after the president put five departments in Limpopo under administration. This was seen by Mathale's supporters as a strategy to neutralise him and some of his close allies, including former ANC Youth League president Julius Malema. Mathale's future as premier and provincial chairperson might be in danger if Zuma is re-elected.
KwaZulu-Natal ANC secretary Sihle Zikalala appears to have fulfilled his role with energy and to have delivered the province to Zuma again. Meanwhile, the "anyone but Zuma" lobbyists in the province are hoping a subterranean campaign will yield at least 300 votes from KwaZulu-Natal's 974 voting delegates. Zikalala has controlled the provincial processes, including the running of regional and provincial conferences leading up to Mangaung, with an iron fist in an attempt to ensure that there is no deviation from the pro-Zuma script.