Who will lead the African National Congress and hence the country will be decided at Mangaung at the end of this year. Zuma's re-election or the election of a new party president depends on a number of factors. Having already looked at a breakdown of supporting votes there are other factors affecting the outcome.
A number of deciding factors may still enter the picture, including:
• Motlanthe may announce his unavailability, leaving the way open for a weaker candidate like Tokyo Sexwale to challenge Zuma. Such a scenario might see some of the 'undecided' votes and some former Motlanthe supporters voting for Zuma’s;
• Should either candidate become embroiled in any scandals or controversies – especially with an impact on the ANC or any of its structures – it will naturally weaken that candidate’s chances;
• It also cannot be ruled out at this stage that a surprise but potentially popular candidate may emerge to challenge Zuma. However, there is no-one obvious on the horizon at this stage who could step forward as such a candidate; and
• In the mean time, a first tentative meeting between party leaders from KwaZulu-Natal (which supports Zuma) and Gauteng (which supports Motlanthe) took place last week. The aim of the talks, supported by party veterans, is to hammer out a compromise deal that will starve off a highly divisive leadership battle in Mangaung.
Of course, the ANC’s various leaguesbut especially its very vocal and militant Youth League, as well as its alliance partners, the South African Communist Party (SACP), the South African National Civics Organisations (Sanco), and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), will now go to work in provinces structures and at branches to try to sway opinions one way or the other and to influence which individuals become actual conference delegates.
Furthermore, voting patterns could be influenced over the next 10 weeks is public relations campaigns likely to be driven by the various factions and organisations. For instance the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal have already formally launched a campaign, including a mass march, to highlight the achievements of Zuma's administration.
The ANCYL, on the other hand, vocally assisted by the Friends of the Youth League (FYL) – a support vehicle created for its ousted former president Julius Malema – has been intensively campaigning to show Zuma up as an autocrat, abuser of state resources, spent force, failed leader, amongst their other listed shortcomings .
The bottom line is that trying to predict the final outcome of the December election in Mangaung is at this stage hazardous terrain.