ANC gets ready for 103rd birthday festivities
T he ANC is hoping to paint Cape Town black, yellow and green this week to celebrate its 103rd birthday – and those with R3 million to spare get to hang out with President Jacob Zuma.
This marks the first time since 2004 that the ANC will hold its annual January 8 celebrations in the Western Cape, the only province inwhich it is theopposition rather than the governing party.
The ANC is very weak in the province after years of internal factional battles, which contributed to its loss of power and a decimation of branches, especially in the coloured communities, which make up the majority of the province’s population.
Some of the party’s leaders, among them deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte and chairperson Baleka Mbete, have been hard at work mobilising supporters ahead of the main event at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday.
The ANC’s national spokesperson, Zizi Kodwa, said the party was expecting a capacity crowd at the stadium, which can hold 62 000 people.
Most guests will be from the Western Cape, but thousands will be bused in from other provinces.
The event will be preceded by a gala dinner at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on Friday night. Zuma will be the keynote speaker and might offer some hints about the speech he is scheduled to deliver on Saturday.
Kodwa said Zuma’s speech would highlight “key milestones for the ANC for 2015”.
He added: “These will not only be for the ANC, but for the country, as he will not only be talking to the ANC, but to the country.”
The annual speech, widely known as the “January 8 statement”, outlines the party’s plan of action for the year.
Because it is now a year before the local government elections, Zuma is expected to highlight the ANC’s achievements in the municipalities that it governs and touch on plans to turn around dysfunctional ones. He is also expected to speak about preparations for the national general council – the ANC’ midterm policy review gathering in June.
AR3 million price tag has been placed on Zuma’s 10-seater Titanium table at the gala dinner, while the Platinum table, where guests can mingle with Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, goes for R2 million. Those withless to spend can join a heavyweight ANC dignitary or Cabinet minister at the Silver table, which costs R1 million. The Bronze table goes for R150 000.
The ANC’s Western Cape secretary, Songezo Mjongile, insisted there would be room for ordinary supporters and guests, with table prices for the 1 000-seat dinner starting at R150. The Mail & Guardian reported on Friday that companies will spend a small fortune to mingle with the governing party’s bigwigs at a corporate hospitality lounge filled with ministers, premiers and parliamentarians, with a top-end bar and buffet lunch just outside the stadium on Saturday.
“The corporate lounge will be a network lounge,” said Kodwa.
“Remember, the event is not just a political event, it’s a social event, it’s an entertainment event; it’s a celebration. People will want to network for other things there.
The ANC has arranged more than 400 buses, more than 30 trains and more than 1 000 taxis to bring people to the stadium.
On Thursday, Zuma and other ANC bigwigs will go to Khayelitsha, where a birthday cake will be cut at the OR Tambo Community Hall.
CELEBRATORY MOOD President Jacob Zuma at last year’s gala dinner in Nelspruit
PHOTO: FELIX DLANGAMANDLA