By ZINE GEORGE and ZINGISA MVUMVU
High-profile dignitaries, including a sitting statesman, will descend on East London from tomorrow to be part of the ANC’s 106th birthday bash.
These include Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, former Mozambique president Joaquim Chisano, South African President Jacob Zuma, former president Kgalema Motlanthe, and senior members of liberation movements including Frelimo in Mozambique and Angola’s MPLA (People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola).
The ANC will celebrate its 106th year on Saturday when party president Cyril Ramaphosa delivers the traditional January 8 Statement at Buffalo City Stadium.
President Kenyatta’s spokesman Manoah Esipisu confirmed yesterday that “definitely our president will come to East London for the ANC birthday celebrations”.
Kenyatta is also on an official visit to the country, which will see him having a meeting with Zuma at Dr John L Dube House in KwaZulu-Natal today, before joining other leaders in East London over the weekend.
Presidency spokesman Bongani Ngqulunga confirmed the meeting between Zuma and Kenyatta today, saying the Kenyan president was on his first working visit to SA since his inauguration in November 28 2017.
The Dispatch can reveal today that Zuma will arrive in East London tomorrow, on the eve of the fundraising gala dinner with Ramaphosa, an event which won’t come cheap.
The cheapest seat at the main table with Ramaphosa goes for the hefty price tag of R250000. In his company will be the other ANC top six leaders which include David Mabuza, Paul Mashatile, Ace Magashule, Jessie Duarte and Gwede Mantashe.
The main event on Saturday will see an expected 120000 ANC supporters flocking into three stadiums – Buffalo City, Buffalo Park and Jan Smuts.
ANC Eastern Cape provincial chairman Oscar Mabuyane said the province would live up to expectations by hosting a memorable anniversary celebration.
“Since the national conference at Nasrec‚ people feel rejuvenated. They feel the ANC has been brought back to them. As a province‚ this is an opportunity to showcase why we are called the home of legends.
“We are going to live up to that standard‚” he said.
Yesterday Ramaphosa met his 80-member national executive committee at the East London Convention Centre, where the party’s national working committee was expected to be elected and a report on conference preparations was also discussed in detail.
There was speculation that the matter of recalling Zuma would also be discussed.
But Magashule, addressing the media, said the agenda of the meeting had been adopted and there was no item to discuss a recall of Zuma, as there were no two centres of power in the ANC.
“There are no two centres of power, there is only one centre and that is the African National Congress,” said Magashule.
“That matter was never for discussion because the president [Zuma] and the president of the ANC [Ramaphosa] are constantly meeting and engaging.
“There was no matter [of two centres of power] to be discussed.”
Explaining the reasons Zuma’s future was not a priority at the meeting Mabuyane, an extended NEC member, said: “We have a lekgotla coming up next week‚ another NEC meeting definitely…but now we are looking at the [January 8] Statement.
“The narrative of unity that is sacrosanct in the ANC has gained momentum on the ground and we do not want to mess up that narrative. We do not want to get into a celebration of the ANC with something that is going distort and create discord on what we are trying to send to our people.”
Mabuyane believes calls for Zuma’s recall should be a matter “handled by the leadership itself”.
“NEC members are all mature enough and they understand the importance and significance of the January 8 Statement.
“It is a very sacred space for the ANC. This is where we get marshalling orders from the ANC.
“We are from the conference which took serious resolutions.
“We must be able to move and take the ANC to a higher pedestal‚ making sure we speak from the same wavelength – sending one clear message with many voices.” — firstname.lastname@example.org/ email@example.com