The contest for leadership positions within the ANC in Gauteng is hotting up, with Tshwane and Ekurhuleni regions ganging up to challenge the dominance of Johannesburg.

Highly placed ANC sources told Sowetan yesterday that the three main regions in the province initially agreed on an inclusive list, until Johannesburg unilaterally changed it.

"We wanted to avoid unnecessary tension and have all regions represented, but Johannesburg tampered with the list," said a source.

The regions are said to have agreed that the position of deputy chairperson would be allocated to Tshwane and that of general secretary to Ekurhuleni. Now Tshwane and Ekurhuleni are backing former mayor Smangaliso Mkhatshwa to contest the position of chairman. Mkhatshwa will challenge current chairman Paul Mashatile while Gauteng premier Nomvula Mokonyane is also running for the same position.

The Tshwane and Ekurhuleni list has national education spokesperson Panyaza Lesufi as a candidate for provincial secretary. The Gauteng list has Mashatile as chairman with Ayanda Dlodlo as his deputy; David Makhura as secretary and Lesufi as his deputy.

Mokonyane does not feature in the two lists. This raises speculation that her lobby group is still formulating a list.

"Mokonyane's support is scattered throughout the province. She does not have a solid block backing her.

The fact that the ANC has made it clear that it is against two centres of power could work to her advantage. Her position as premier could help her to be elected chairperson of the province," said a provincial leader.

ANC provincial spokesperson Dumisani Ntuli said lists in circulation were not official.

"Lobbying will not start until March 15. It is branches of the ANC that will nominate and decide who should lead the organisation in the province," he said.

He said the elective conference would be held on May 6 to 9.

Ntuli said the party had agreed that lobbying for leadership would be in line with the constitution of the party.