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Voting closed at Mangaung

Polls at the ANC Elective Conference in Mangaung have officially closed.

Delegates at the ANC's Mangaung Conference on 17 December 2012. Picture: GCIS

MANGAUNG - It was still unclear on Tuesday morning whether Free State and North West delegates attending the ANC's Mangaung conference had to cast their votes in separate ballots, due to pending court applications filed by disgruntled members.

The party's electoral commission reportedly made the proposal in case the Constitutional Court decides to declare the elections invalid.

Some delegates in the conference on Monday said Free State and North West members were asked to vote on different coloured ballot papers, but no consensus could be reach on this.

Voting only started at 2am on Tuesday morning, with delegates from KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng casting their ballots first.

It was a very long night for those from Limpopo, who voted last.

Tired ANC members wrapped in blankets were this morning walking around the University of the Free State showing off the ink marks on their fingers.

There was much contestation around ballots for delegates from the troubled provinces of North West and Free State.

Some ANC members told Eyewitness News they went into the voting booths at 2am, but did not say if the Free State and North West delegates voted separately.

There has been no official word from the ANC on the state of the voting process, but the party is expected to clear things up later on Tuesday.

The party's electoral commission reportedly proposed the separate votes in the plenary session, but it was rejected.

Sources inside the main tent said this had delayed the process even further, and cut "crucial" discussions on policy short.

Voting closed just after 7am.

VOTING DELAYS

The commission, which is in charge of the voting process, on Monday said it wanted to make sure everything was in order before voting started.

The commission knew some ANC delegates were keeping a watchful eye on the process, with a view to find mistakes that could later be used in a court challenge.

The commission printed the ballot papers after nominations concluded on Monday, and then had to make sure the ballot boxes could be properly sealed so that no tampering could take place.

CELEBRATIONS FOR ZUMA 'VICTORY'

Meanwhile, President Jacob Zuma supporters were already celebrating and spent much of the night claiming victory.

Many gathered outside the main entrance of the university campus where the conference is being held.

The vocal group proved to be an irritation to motorists driving past the university, but the Zuma loyalists were unfazed.

One man shouted: "I go for Zuma, Zuma is our president. I'll die for Zuma, I'll kill for Zuma."

While another said Zuma deserved a second term.

"Those who are not respecting our president must go and form their own party."

During the announcement of the presidential candidates, delegates cheered the loudest for those from the Zuma slate, including deputy president candidate Cyril Ramaphosa and deputy secretary-general candidate Jessie Duarte.

MOTLANTHE GOES ALL IN

Motlanthe is facing the possible end to his political career after he withdrew from consideration as deputy president.

He may however feel he has nothing to lose by taking this massive gamble.

Motlanthe may also view this philosophically.

He may lose his position on the ANC's top six, but he will go out by making the point that the system of leaders running as slates is destroying the ANC.

But Motlanthe also runs the risk of losing his current day job as deputy president of the state.

He will know that Zuma will be angry at his stance, and so could wreak revenge early in the New Year.

The ANC Youth League's acting president, Ronald Lamola said Motlanthe's decision showed he thought the party needed a change of leadership.

"I think he is showing everybody that he has taken a decision that he wants to be the president of the ANC.

"We think he has done the correct thing. He is reflecting that the ANC needs a change of guard, and that change of guard can be him."

'THE ANC IS NOT BEING TORN APART'

At the same time, ANC disciplinary committee member and Minister of Science and Technology Derek Hanekom said this conference is much better organised than Polokwane, because there is more rank and file unity.

Hanekom on Monday said the Polokwane conference was marred by tensions between leaders, but said things were different this time around.

"We don't see those same kinds of tensions, we're not being torn apart and so we can start immediately to rebuilding and addressing some of these big challenges that our country faces."

After results are announced later on Monday, Zuma and Motlanthe will have to display that unity, with several Motlanthe supporters likely to be left out in the cold.

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