Fresh from an informal endorsement of Cyril Ramaphosa to replace Jacob Zuma as president of the ANC, the party in the Eastern Cape has revealed who they want to be elected among the top six leaders: ANC treasurer general Zweli Mkhize, Minister of Human Settlements Lindiwe Sisulu and chairperson of the National Council of Provinces Thandi Modise.

With 136 207 members, the Eastern Cape is the ANC’s second biggest province and has emerged as a battleground for winning support among the top six contenders.

This weekend, the party’s Eastern Cape regions squared off in a violent brawl over the election of a new provincial leadership, with the faction loyal to Premier Phumulo Masualle exchanging blows and litigation with supporters of newly elected chairperson Oscar Mabuyane.

Masualle’s supporters are known to back former African Union chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, though the premier himself supports Ramaphosa.

Mabuyane’s supporters are torn between endorsing Ramaphosa or Mkhize, who has already scored an official nomination from the Eastern Cape’s Alfred Nzo region.

Lining up behind the Dlamini-Zuma campaign are the Nelson Mandela Bay, Amathole and Joe Gqabi regions, while the Ramaphosa camp holds the majority support in the OR Tambo, Sarah Baartman, Alfred Nzo, Chris Hani and Dr WB Rubusana (Buffalo City) regions.

Now with their presidential preferences clarified, regional leaders are hoping to consolidate the names of who should be elected alongside the next president.

Sarah Baartman: 73 branches

“We agreed that the established tradition of the ANC [where the deputy president succeeds the president] must not be tampered with, therefore Cyril Ramaphosa must take over,” Sarah Baartman regional secretary Scara Njadayi told the Mail & Guardian.

His region’s 73 branches have come out in support of a proposal by Zuma to have the office of the ANC deputy president extended to accommodate two candidates.

“We know there are other strong candidates such as Zweli Mkhize and Lindiwe Sisulu.