Venue grounds for con­cern

Mi­nor sta­dium cho­sen for rally

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - LUYOLO MKENTANE

THE ANC has cho­sen the small, un­kempt Dan Qeqe Sta­dium as the venue for its pro­vin­cial Siyan­qoba rally, where Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma is ex­pected to de­liver the key­note ad­dress at 11am to­day.

This comes three months after the rul­ing party failed to fill the 46 000-ca­pac­ity Nel­son Man­dela Bay Sta­dium, where the ANC launched its elec­tion man­i­festo in April. An es­ti­mated 30 000 peo­ple at­tended, far below ca­pac­ity. The party blamed lo­gis­ti­cal prob­lems and even sab­o­tage for the fail­ure.

The of­fi­cial ca­pac­ity of the Dan Qeqe Sta­dium in Zwide town­ship is un­known. The ne­glected sta­dium has one cov­ered seat­ing stand and open ter­races on the other three sides. While it has a cher­ished place in the hearts and minds of PE res­i­dents – the sta­dium is a tra­di­tional venue for rugby in the town­ships and was also the site for many anti-apartheid gath­er­ings – it has fallen into dis­use and ne­glect over the years.

Yes­ter­day, ANC na­tional spokesman Zizi Kodwa briefed the me­dia, say­ing they were sure of a large turnout be­cause the party was the only hope for the poor­est of the poor.

He was ac­com­pa­nied by his re­gional coun­ter­part Gift Ngqondi and the re­gional task team con­venor Beza Nt­shona. Kodwa was the chief source of the ul­ti­mately empty boasts last April, when he told a pre­rally press con­fer­ence the ANC would bring 100 000 sup­port­ers to the Man­dela Bay sta­dium.

The ANC said they ex­pected 40 000 peo­ple to at­tend this time. To achieve this, 500 buses would be de­ployed through­out Port El­iz­a­beth, Despatch and Uiten­hage.

Nt­shona in­sisted the sta­dium “will be full”.

Kodwa said lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions, in the main, “are not about filling sta­di­ums”.

“They are about in­ter­act­ing per­son to per­son, about go­ing door-to-door. You may fill sta­di­ums with peo­ple who are not even regis­tered (to vote). Sta­dium (events are) cel­e­bra­tions.”

He said their suc­cess­ful door-to-door cam­paign “tells us we will win over­whelm­ingly. Peo­ple still love the ANC”.

Kodwa said the rally, which he dubbed a cel­e­bra­tion of the party’s strength, was the cul­mi­na­tion of the work it had been do­ing in the trou­bled re­gion, where ANC sup­port had been dwin­dling since 2011.

Soc­cer ad­min­is­tra­tor Danny Jor­daan was parachuted in as mayor last year to try to sal­vage the metro from sink­ing un­der a moun­tain of cor­rup­tion and in­fight­ing.

“We brought Danny to sta­bilise the metro,” Kodwa said, com­mend­ing him for putting the metro on a sound fi­nan­cial footing, in­creas­ing tourism num­bers, the pos­i­tive rat­ings by agen­cies and over­all sta­bil­ity.

“He has got a clear vi­sion where he is go­ing to take the mu­nic­i­pal­ity,” said Kodwa.

On the cam­paign trail, Jor­daan has pat­ted him­self on the back for his hard work, say­ing he has at­tracted in­vest­ment worth R30 bil­lion to the ail­ing metro.

Ad­dress­ing the busi­ness sec­tor and pro­fes­sion­als on Thurs­day, the mayor and ANC may­oral can­di­date said the mu­nic­i­pal­ity, as a re­sult of his good lead­er­ship, now had R1.7bn in the bank.

He stressed it was im­port- ant for the metro to sta­bilise its fi­nances and “cut un­nec­es­sary stuff out of the bud­get”.

This in­cluded over­seas travel for mu­nic­i­pal em­ploy­ees which had a bud­get of over R300m. It was now down to zero and “these are some of the de­ci­sions that do not make you pop­u­lar”, said Jor­daan.

PIC­TURE: MICHAEL PINYANA.

Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma in Dun­can Vil­lage, East Lon­don, dur­ing a door-to door cam­paign by the pres­i­dent and some of the min­is­ters in his cabi­net.

PIC­TURE: LUYOLO MKENTANE

ANC na­tional spokesman Zizi Kodwa.

Mar­ius Frans­man

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