Rul­ing party to cel­e­brate 105th birth­day


ANC leaders are fran­ti­cally hop­ing for a show of unity among all its war­ring fac­tions ahead of its cru­cial Jan­uary 8 state­ment to mark its 105th birth­day cel­e­bra­tions in Soweto on Sunday.

While fac­tions within the ANC ap­pear to widen, sec­re­tary-gen­eral Gwede Man­tashe re­mained up­beat that a so­lu­tion to end the dif­fer­ences within the gov­ern­ing party could be achieved.

Man­tashe was ad­dress­ing jour­nal­ists on the side­lines of the ANC spe­cial na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee (NEC) meet­ing held at St Ge­orge’s Ho­tel in Irene, Tsh­wane, yes­ter­day.

He was re­spond­ing to a ques­tion on whether the Jan­uary 8 ral­ly­ing call for “Unity in Ac­tion” was a pipe dream.

Some want AU Com­mis­sion chair­per­son Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma to take over from Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma, while oth­ers pre­fer ANC deputy pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa to take over the reins.

“It’s not a pipe dream to bring unity to the or­gan­i­sa­tion; it’s what we as­pire to do. You set it as an ob­jec­tive and in­vest time and en­ergy; you achieve it if you work hard enough,” Man­tashe said.

“An or­gan­i­sa­tion that isn’t united is weaker, it’s very sub-op­ti­mal. When we’re united we’ll do bet­ter and we’re a bet­ter or­gan­i­sa­tion.”

The ANC has vowed to fill Or­lando Sta­dium when Zuma de­liv­ers his last Jan­uary 8 state­ment as pres­i­dent of the party, af­ter he in­di­cated he would not stand for re-elec­tion.

Man­tashe said ANC leaders had been criss-cross­ing Gaut­eng to en­cour­age peo­ple to come to Or­lando Sta­dium, say­ing it was part of their ac­tions to lis­ten to the con­cerns of the elec­torate, par­tic­u­larly those with cer­tain dis­sat­is­fac­tions about the gov­ern­ing party.

“We have been all over… as of­fi­cials of the ANC. The pres­i­dent has ar­rived today (Thurs­day) from home (KZN). He put in a spe­cific apol­ogy for be­ing at home on Jan­uary 3 and 4.

“Ac­tu­ally, the NEC was sup­posed to be on the 4th but be­cause of that apol­ogy (we moved it to Thurs­day). He is now here, he will be mov­ing all over the prov­ince. So all the of­fi­cials are back now and will be ev­ery­where.”

He main­tained the party was still hop­ing for max­i­mum at­ten­dance at Or­lando Sta­dium af­ter ex­pe­ri­enc­ing poor at­ten­dance at Nel­son Man­dela Bay Sta­dium dur­ing the na­tional launch of the ANC lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions man­i­festo in April last year.

The ANC failed to fill the 46 000-seater sta­dium af­ter promis­ing that more than 100 000 peo­ple would at­tend.

“We ex­pect to fill Or­lando Sta­dium. We al­ways plan to fill sta­di­ums. We like fill­ing sta­di­ums and over­flow ar­eas. If that doesn’t hap­pen we get dis­ap­pointed our­selves, and that’s what we are work­ing for at Or­lando Sta­dium.”

Giv­ing de­tails about Sunday’s event, Man­tashe said the draft­ing com­mit­tee for the Jan­uary 8 state­ment had al­ready pre­sented their draft, and the NEC was dis­cussing it last night. “Their fo­cus was on the con­tent, for­mu­la­tion and en­sur­ing that it talks to the peo­ple of South Africa”.

“It points di­rec­tion. By the time we present it we must know what to do next, where to move and that is the pur­pose of the Jan­uary 8 state­ment. So we are busy dis­cussing it. The whole week from Jan­uary 3 we were all de­ployed all over, talk­ing to com­mu­ni­ties, mo­bil­is­ing for Jan­uary 8… for the sta­dium in Or­lando to be full.

“This state­ment will give hope and di­rec­tion to the ac­tivists and foot sol­diers of the ANC,” Man­tashe added.

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