Johannesburg - "We want to run a good conference, when I retire as a secretary I must be happy, having ran a good conference," Gwede Mantashe said on Saturday as the start of the ANC conference was delayed by four hours.
Mantashe said he was, however, confident that the conference will run smoothly without hindrances.
The outgoing ANC secretary general was addressing journalists to announce that ANC delegates barred by court rulings from participating in the party's crucial national elective conference would not be allowed to vote for President Jacob Zuma’s successor.
On Friday, the KwaZulu-Natal and Free State provincial executives were disqualified from attending the 54th national conference after courts ruled that processes leading up to the gathering were irregular.
In the North West, about 40 branch meetings were nullified in Bojanala, the province’s biggest region, after disgruntled members approached the high court charging that they were not constitutionally convened.
The court rulings forced the ruling party to convene an urgent meeting of its national executive committee at 8am on Saturday.
Mantashe said allowing the concerned delegates and provincial executives blocked by courts would contaminate the conference.
"That is what we met about so that we don't do anything that will contaminate the national conference.
"All the structures that are nullified will not be voting delegates at conference. We are not going to try any idea that will actually contaminate conference.
"We will not even allow them to vote with a different colour code," Mantashe.
Mantashe said delegates from the concerned branches were already at the Nasrec Expo Centre where the conference will take place.
He said they would be only allowed in as observers.
Mantashe said the prospect of appealing the court rulings had been discussed by the NEC and the issue had been left to the respective provinces to decide.
The conference is set to officially start at 2pm today, four hours after the initially scheduled time.
Mantashe said all provinces had registered, with only Tshwane region left.
While Mantashe was addressing journalists, the capital city’s delegates were concluding their registration at the University of Johannesburg Soweto campus.
"We said instead of putting pressure on everybody, we will start at 2pm. We want to table the credentials upfront to conference," he said.
His sentiments came as as concerns soared that the conference could deadlock on credentials owing to factional divisions between backers of presidential hopefuls Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.