Party time at #ANC105

CityPress - - News - CARIEN DU PLESSIS news@city­press.co.za

Two things were on the lips of ANC big­wigs who gath­ered at the Sand­ton Con­ven­tion Cen­tre last night for the party’s gala birth­day din­ner. One was what the year ahead will hold for the party set to elect a new leader. The other was whether the heavy rain in Gaut­eng would sab­o­tage the party’s tra­di­tional Jan­uary 8 rally at Or­lando Sta­dium to­day. At­ten­dees were more eas­ily drawn on the sec­ond topic than the first. Asked whether she thought 2017 would be an in­ter­est­ing year, ANC deputy sec­re­tary-gen­eral Jessie Duarte, wear­ing a sleeve­less, for­mal gown, de­fi­antly said: “It will be a good year. It will be a very good year.”

Asked whether the rain was caused by a third force, State Se­cu­rity Min­is­ter David Mahlobo joked: “I don’t know, but I wasn’t trained to han­dle rain.”

More se­ri­ously, he said he’d heard about ac­ci­dents by ser­vice ve­hi­cles out­side the sta­dium and was con­cerned the roads might be slip­pery or wa­ter­logged to­day.

Af­ter the gala din­ner, Mahlobo had to re­turn to the sta­dium to en­sure se­cu­rity mea­sures were in place.

He joked that he could, at any time, put a sig­nal jam­mer in­side to block cell­phone sig­nals like he did in 2015 dur­ing the State of the Na­tion Ad­dress in the Na­tional Assem­bly.

Mahlobo shared a ta­ble, decked out in ANC colours like all the other ta­bles, with deputy jus­tice min­is­ter John Jef­fery and deputy co­op­er­a­tive gov­er­nance min­is­ter An­dries Nel.

Gaut­eng chief whip Brian Hlongwa was more se­ri­ously con­cerned about the rain, say­ing the in­ac­ces­si­bil­ity of some roads might mean not all buses would be able to pick up their pas­sen­gers.

“In the­ory, the sta­dium is al­ready full and the buses have been booked,” he said.

Open­ing the din­ner, which started al­most two hours late ow­ing to guests’ slow ar­rival, Home Af­fairs Min­is­ter Malusi Gi­gaba said: “To­mor­row, rain or no rain, we are go­ing to fill up Or­lando Sta­dium.”

Be­fore the event, Tourism Min­is­ter Derek Hanekom ar­rived with his wife, Tr­ish, both in high spir­its about the new year. They posed in front of a big banner of for­mer ANC pres­i­dent OR Tambo, who would have turned 100 years old this year.

Jour­nal­ists jok­ingly asked if he had any friends left af­ter propos­ing a mo­tion in a na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee (NEC) meet­ing last year that Zuma should step down. Hanekom, how­ever, just laughed it off.

Other guests in­cluded deputy agri­cul­ture min­is­ter Bheki Cele who was seen talk­ing to deputy land re­form min­is­ter Mce­bisi Sk­wat­sha and his wife, Sapho.

Seated at the about 150 ta­bles in the hall were in­ter­na­tional guests from In­dia, as well as from fra­ter­nal par­ties in neigh­bour­ing coun­tries.

While some women were dressed in low-key evening dresses and glit­ter, many chose to ar­rive in out­fits in ANC colours.

Ear­lier, Soweto’s his­toric Vi­lakazi Street was where or­di­nary and some not-so-or­di­nary ANC mem­bers came out to play ahead of the party’s 105th an­niver­sary rally.

Some party mem­bers who are usual fix­tures at the cel­e­bra­tions de­clared that they’d rather stay at home be­cause they are dis­il­lu­sioned with the or­gan­i­sa­tion, but many did come out to have a drink in style – and in party colours.

Some at­tempted to play down the booz­ing that ac­com­pa­nies the ANC’s tra­di­tion­ally first ma­jor get-to­gether of the year be­cause they felt this was not the sort of im­age the party should be pro­ject­ing – es­pe­cially not af­ter los­ing both the Jo­han­nes­burg and Tsh­wane met­ros in last year’s lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions.

Oth­ers, how­ever, were hang­ing out in the white mar­quees put up by Sakhumzi Restau­rant.

Those will­ing to cough up R20 000 could buy them­selves and their pals or ro­man­tic play­mates two bot­tles each of Hen­nessy co­gnac, Dom Pérignon Cham­pagne, Belvedere vodka and Hen­drick’s gin, and four bot­tles of ei­ther Moët et Chan­don or Veuve Clic­quot Cham­pagne. There were also cheaper pack­ages – right down to a mere R6 000.

Down the road, the Kwa Lich­aba shisa nyama had a lot more space on of­fer, but busi­ness was slow on Fri­day night with most peo­ple ap­par­ently not will­ing to cough up the cover charge, which at R50 was a bar­gain con­sid­er­ing the R100-plus en­trance fees charged by places like Cubana at Jan­uary 8 pre-par­ties in pre­vi­ous years.

Some took to drink­ing booze from cooler boxes in the boots of their BMWs, parked by the fence of the es­tab­lish­ment. “We’re not pay­ing that cover charge,” the rev­ellers com­plained.

On a cor­ner op­po­site the shisa nyama, Mlungisi Mb­hele, dressed in a T-shirt bear­ing the words “Thank you” be­neath Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s face, had his own braai drum with a few large pieces of de­li­cious-smelling boere­wors for hot dogs – sell­ing at R25 a piece, as well as some chicken, which started at R35 for a quar­ter bird.

The T-shirt was one of those dis­trib­uted by ac­tivists from Mpumalanga who swept Soweto and sur­rounds at the week­end with 30 dou­ble-cab bakkies and a mas­sive cam­paign truck left over from last year’s elec­tions.

A lo­cal branch sec­re­tary, who only gave his name as Sicelo, said the ANC “never meant to be a drink­ing party”, but since “the ANC is the long­est sur­viv­ing lib­er­a­tion move­ment [on the con­ti­nent], why can’t we come out and cel­e­brate?”

PHOTO: CARIEN DU PLESSIS

MORE LIKE HARD WORK ANC deputy sec­re­tary-gen­eral Jesse Duarte with Min­is­ter in the Pres­i­dency Jeff Radebe and Wa­ter and San­i­ta­tion Min­is­ter Nomvula Mokonyane at last night’s gala din­ner

PHOTO: CARIEN DU PLESSIS

ANY FRIENDS LEFT? Tourism min­is­ter and ANC NEC mem­ber Derek Hanekon and his wife, Tr­ish

PHOTO: CARIEN DU PLESSIS

NEW­LY­WED BLISS ANC na­tional chair­per­son Baleka Mbete and her new hus­band, Nape Khomo

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