AMBITIOUS politicians in Limpopo are intensifying their efforts to garner support for leadership positions ahead of the Mopani regional elective conference to be held this weekend.

The region will hold its conference from Friday until Sunday at Eiland Spa near the Kruger National Park.

Mopani, a home region for Premier Cassel Mathale, is the second biggest region after Sekhukhune. It has 104 branches.

Serious contest is for the secretariat, which is a key position in the ANC.

The position will be contested by three main political heavyweights - former Congress of South African Students provincial chairperson Bricks Manzini, ANC foot soldier Samuel Mkhabele and former greater Tzaneen municipal manager Diamond Mushwana.

Manzini, who led the class of 1990 and 1991 students in the then Northern Transvaal province, has enjoyed overwhelming support from many branches to become the party's main man for the next two years.

He was hailed by many as the party engine after he serving as ANC regional administrator in Tzaneen since 1998.

A minority of the branches have touted Mkhabela - and others Mushwana - as preferred candidates for the position.

But their detractors see Mkhabela and Mushwana as being politically immature and opportunistic because of their sudden rise to power.

But despite such reservations about them they still managed to muster support, mainly in the Tsonga-speaking communities of Giyani, Nkowankowa and N'wamitwa.

Deputy regional chairperson and executive mayor for the Mopani District municipality Joshua Matlou is the favourite to lead the region.

A popular list supported by the majority of the branches has Matlou as chairperson, greater BaPhalaborwa municipality speaker David Maake as deputy, Bricks Manzini as secretary, Boswell Malatji as deputy secretary and Martha Maswanganyi as treasurer.