Voting through night

2010-12-17 00:00

VOTING finally got under way at the Congress of the People (Cope) elective conference at about 8.30 pm last night and was expected to be completed by about 4 am today.

The past two days were marred by a breakdown in trust between the factions of Mbhazima Shilowa and Mosioua Lekota. The result was a collapse of the registration process

By 8 pm the conference centre was cleared and all present had to go outside. The doors were locked as preparations were made to verify the credentials of voting delegates. While this was happening more police reinforcements arrived.

Members of the Lekota faction remained silent over who their preferred candidates were for the top six leadership positions. However, Shilowa supporters, who were confident that they had more voting delegates at the conference, were vocal about who they wanted as leaders of the party. Besides Shilowa as president, there was strong support for the Eastern Cape’s Mluleki George as first deputy president and Zale Madonzela (Mpumalanga) as second deputy. Neville Mompati ( Northern Cape) was being touted as secretary and Nikiwe Num as his deputy with the Western Cape’s Ebrahim Savat as treasurer.

If for some reason voting failed to take place last night, leadership of the party will revert to the provincial leaders, as according to the Cope constitution, the term of office of the current leaders ended at midnight last night. Shilowa supporters say they don’t mind this because he has support from most of the provinces. However, most claim that they will not allow this to happen. Despite being exhausted, the delegates were determined that they were going to see the voting process through even though it was going to be their third night with little or no sleep.

The Cope conference may have appeared to be a fiasco, but for many of the delegates, being finally allowed to vote for their leaders after four previous failed attempts by the party to hold an elective conference, will be a triumph of democracy.

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