On Sunday a picture emerged of strong support for Jacob Zuma, overshowing the rest and spectacularly managing to humiliate national ANC chairperson Mosiuoa Lekota.
As strong an indicator as it was, some delegates supporting President Thabo Mbeki insisted that an Mbeki win remained a possibility. An Eastern Cape delegate said people should not be fooled by those enjoying the rhythm of Umshini Wam.
It is the battle for the rest of the top six positions that would show whether it would be a clean sweep for the Zuma lobbyists.
Using a soccer illustration to refer to the fortunes of Lekota, a Gauteng delegate supporting Zuma joked that it was amazing that the fans were calling for a substitution even before the match had started.
SACP chairperson Gwede Mantashe looks a safe bet to trump Lekota, who was the most loathed official on the first day of conference.
The race for the deputy presidency — a stand-off between two heavyweights, Minister of Foreign Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and secretary general Kgalema Motlanthe — is one that the former National Union of Mineworkers secretary general looked poised to win.
Motlanthe repeatedly stepped in to save the conference from the abyss of disorder each time Lekota failed to calm the crowds.
Delegates insisted on singing songs in support of Zuma despite Lekota’s repeated attempts to call them to order. As in 2005, at the national general council, Lekota had to bring in Motlanthe to keep things afloat.
For the position of chairperson there are at present two candidates, Joel Netshitenzhe, a respected intellectual in the ANC, and Parliament speaker Baleka Mbete, who was warmly received by the delegates on Sunday.
Mbete is a late replacement for Tokyo Sexwale who has thrown in his lot with the Zuma camp.
Mbete is believed to prefer a part-time ANC job to allow her to carry on as speaker, as well as to boost female representation in the top six.
Deputy secretary general will be either Thandi Modise, speaker of the North West legislature, or Minister of Public Works Thoko Didiza.
The position for treasurer general will be contested by Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and former Mpumalanga premier Mathews Phosa. The former Mpumalanga premier has worked hard on an ANC comeback and the Zuma lobby should give him the edge.