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#ANC54: 11th hour pact saves conference

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A last minute agreement on credentials averted a possible watershed.

An agreement was reached on credentials which possibly saved the conference.

A last minute agreement on credentials averted a possible collapse of the watershed ANC elective conference ahead of the presidential contest between the two hopefuls, Cyril Ramaphosa and Nkosazana DlaminiZuma.

The credentials were adopted without much of a fight from the two main factions at the Nasrec Expo Centre in Soweto yesterday despite earlier concerns.

Delegates spent less than an hour considering the all important report. Concerns of bogus delegates and possible vote rigging took centre stage since Friday after thousands of ANC members descended at the University of Johannesburg’s Soweto campus to register for the elective conference.

The concerns also grew after three High Courts in KwaZulu-Natal, Bloemfontein and Mafikeng barred several delegates from participating in the elective conference due to various irregularities in their nominations.

At plenary some delegates questioned why Sihle Zikalala, the chairman of the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal and other members of the that province’s provincial executive committee (PEC) were present as voting delegates when recent court judgments barred them from voting at the conference.

It was however explained to delegates that Zikalala and other members had been nominated as representatives of their branches.

The fate of the ANC now rests on the 4 776 delegates who are eligible to vote after an initial allocation of 5 240. To win the election, a candidate needs a majority of the votes cast on the day.

The decrease in the number of the delegations seems to have affected both sides as all provinces had their numbers decline from the initial allocation.

On Saturday, the conference had to be adjourned due to differences of opinion by factions belonging to the two presidential hopefuls.

It was then up to ANC deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte, ANC, head of organising Fikile Mbalula, and the nine ANC provincial secretaries to resolve all disputes raised by various disgruntled parties. The group spent Saturday night and the early hours of yesterday morning identifying all those delegates who had been improperly registered on the credential list.

ANC Women’s League President, Bathabile Dlamini, confirmed that conference proceedings had to be halted due to credentials disputes but said this was not the first of its kind in the history of the ANC.

Dlamini said a similar situation happened during the ANC’s 1991 conference when women demanded a 30 person representation in the ANC top leadership. In Dlamini’s view, the delay was just to allow the ANC members to find each other and agree on credentials.

Duarte also downplayed the purported tensions on the issue of credentials creating an impression that it had not been difficult for them to remove those who were not supposed to be on the list of candidates.

Duarte said the committee confirmed that the KZN PEC and Free State PEC would not vote due to court rulings against them. She also confirmed that a similar decision had been taken against 38 branches of the Bojanala Region in Rustenburg in the North West as well as 14 branches of the Free State.

KwaZulu-Natal’s delegation is down from 870 to 804, Gauteng is done from 508 to 491, Eastern Cape is now sending 632 delegates down from 648, Northern Cape has 193 delegates down from 197, the Western Cape is down from 182 to 136, Limpopo is down from 643 from 567, Free State decreased from 409 to 349, North West declined from 538 to 446 while Mpumalanga went down from 736 to 708.

The leagues have 175 delegates, the PEC’s – bar those from KZN and Free State – now have a combined delegation of 189 delegates while the NEC’s 86 members are also eligible to vote.