Venue grounds for concern
Minor stadium chosen for rally
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.
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.
ANC national spokesman Zizi Kodwa.