Businessman Robert Gumede endorses David Mabuza to lead the ANC

Businessman Robert Gumede has apparently endorsed Mpumalanga premier and ANC provincial chairman David Mabuza to lead the ANC.

Gumede announced the decision to back Mabuza for the ANC presidency during his 54th birthday in KaNyamazane outside Mbombela on Wednesday.

"You know, the province has only one (national) cabinet minister, but other provinces have about nine ministers," Gumede said.

"That is going to end now, this is the year for Mpumalanga, we cannot be sending delegates to vote other people in[to[ positions and leave ourselves out. This province has got what it takes."

Gumede, who is Mabuza's chief lobbyist, is also said to have told the guests that Mpumalanga must have one leader in the top six.

"This time around I support one of our own, I have been supporting all the people who have been presidents and now Mpumalanga must have [some]one in the top six," Gumede reportedly said.

Mabuza has been touted by many in President Jacob Zuma's camp as a potential deputy to Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who is campaigning to be elected president in December.

But this latest development could throw Dlamini-Zuma's camp into disarray.

ANC Youth League deputy president Desmond Moela, who was also at the party, echoed Gumede's sentiments, telling guests that the province wants Mabuza to lead the ANC.

However, Mabuza reiterated that the unity of the ANC comes before the jostling for positions.

"The ANC has leaders and they all come and go. We have talked to President Jacob Zuma that in December he steps down and from there, a new leadership will come..." Mabuza said to applause.

According to ANC insiders, Mabuza might come as a surprise presidential candidate.

"The issue of having five people all longing to be presidents is not right and Mabuza has made sure he does not take sides in this.

"The party might decide to take him as an individual who has run a good province and unite [behind him] to lead because those [other] five might create factions in the party," said a source.

So far, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete, Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe, Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and Dlamini-Zuma have thrown their hats into the ring to replace Zuma .