A member of the ANC’s department of information & publicity walks past a colleague and me and asks: "Why do you look so nervous? You’d swear that you were voting delegates." It is Monday, day three of the ANC’s 54th national conference. Delegates have been voting through the night for their new top six leaders and we, the media — and the rest of SA — are on tenterhooks for the results. It has been a long three days with 1,000 journalists cooped up behind a fence with no access to the delegates and limited information about what is happening. This is starkly different to the ANC’s Mangaung conference five years ago, where Jacob Zuma was elected for a second term, or to the 2007 Polokwane conference, say colleagues who were there. Then the media were free to walk around and talk to delegates. At his final briefing on Monday, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe was asked about this new secrecy and alienation of the media. He said it was to put a stop to a "free for all" and ensure com...

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