The East London International Convention Centre was painted black, green and yellow on Saturday as ANC members and supporters gathered to hear party presidential hopeful Lindiwe Sisulu accept calls to avail herself for the party’s top job.
Sisulu did accept, in an unusually short political speech – 15 minutes – following a marathon of speeches of endorsement from supporters who had descended on Buffalo City from across the country.
The daughter of former ANC leader Walter Sisulu said hers was an anti-corruption drive centred around restoring the image of the troubled governing party.
But a few things were striking in the event and her short address.
The event itself, attended by hundreds some coming as far as Limpopo had no ANC NEC, provincial or regional leaders in attendance.
In fact, the only recognisable face who graced the event was #FeesMustFall leader Mcebo Dlamini whose branch – Liliesleaf in Gauteng – is among those that have confirmed support for Sisulu to stand.
This raises questions about her campaign possibly floundering if it struggles to resonate with her colleagues from the upper structures of the party from its inception.
Sisulu’s constant referral to the “Siyavuma” slogan, a catchphrase associated with Cyril Ramaphosa’s bid for the same ANC presidency come elective conference in December, also raised eyebrows with some speculating that she could be campaigning for Ramaphosa with the hopes of being included in his top six.
Sisulu was showered with praise by speaker after speaker during the messages of support that included ANCWL and AmaGcina chief Daluxolo Jezile who all said she was ready to get the country out of the doldrums it finds itself in.
Student leader Dlamini said: “Lindiwe [Sisulu] is one of a kind and probably the last.
She is one of those who grew up and was breastfed on the principles and values of the ANC.
“She is the right person for the [president] position at the moment because the conditions on the ground determine the calibre of a leader we need and at this juncture, Lindiwe is the only person who can take the country out from the predicament it finds itself in.”
Sisulu told the gathering: “I need an assurance that we will walk this, guided by discipline, devotion to duty, courage and conviction. Furthermore, I would like you to assure me that we will be bound by an agreement to ignite hope into our people, Siyavuma?”
To which the crowd responded “yes!”
Sisulu closed it: “If you agree therefore I accept [calls to avail myself for ANC presidency too. — firstname.lastname@example.org