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While thousands of people converged on Newcastle in northern KwaZulu-Natal for the provincial ANC conference, the usual signature accreditation queues were absent, as the process took less than 10 minutes a delegate.

Unlike in previous years, or at the recent Limpopo provincial conference, where some had waited for up to seven hours for accreditation cards, Thursday’s swift-moving lines followed months of hard work to build a customised system.

The man behind the system is Leon Rolls, a member of the party’s research unit and owner of an IT business, Sigma IT.

Rolls says the idea was born in the ANC’s Moses Mabhida region during elections last year. It was then refined ahead of the eThekwini region’s conference.

On Thursday, the ANC registered and handed over accreditation to 1 281 people between 9am and 4pm.

Rolls said that what had helped to speed up the work was the pre-registration process.

Pleased conference delegates instructed The Mercury to “tell the whole country what a good system we have in KZN”.

In addition, they said, the fact that the party’s 11 regions had been given specific times to register had also made the process pain-free.

Rolls said that after attending many ANC conferences, he had “seen the gap”, which is why he had developed the programme and donated it to the party, which had only had to buy the necessary equipment.

He said provincial secretary Sihle Zikalala and Nomusa Dube were the champions behind the development of the programme and were very encouraging after both of them developed a “wake-up call to IT”.

The conference will be officially opened this morning by ANC president Jacob Zuma.

Accommodation in Newcastle and surrounding towns is fully booked, with some delegates staying as far afield as Vryheid and Dundee.

Apart from electing a new leadership, delegates will also consider policy issues ahead of the ANC’s national policy conference in Gauteng in June. - The Mercury