No room at the inn as thousands celebrate ANC birthday

An accommodation crisis has arisen in Buffalo City ahead of the ANC’s 106th birthday celebrations.

Excitement was running high yesterday as final preparations got under way.

The ruling party is expecting an attendance of 120 000 members and supporters.

Buffalo City Metro mayor Xola Pakati on Monday wrote, in a letter to city manager Andile Sihlahla headed “Request to waiver fees for road closures”, that the following roads would be closed from Friday at 5pm until Saturday:

lRecreation Road at Lambert, Commercial and Dyer roads; and

lBrill Street at Tilney and Mill streets.

Fully-booked hotels and guesthouses around the metro were already turning prospective guests away by late yesterday.

Some homeowners opted to make way by vacating their homes and offering them as guesthouses.

Traffic is expected to be congested – made worse by roadworks, with some of the main roads into the city centre, including Fleet Street, under construction.

Buffalo City Metro mayor Xola Pakati pleaded with residents to be patient with the road closures and to bear with the crowds.

“We have put in the paper the roads that will be closed so that our ratepayers and residents do not experience any inconvenience during these festivities,” added Pakati.

The main event will be held at the Buffalo City Stadium, which can accommodate 55000 people.

Pakati said two more stadiums, Buffalo Park Cricket stadium and the Jan Smuts stadium, would be used for the overflow and would be fully equipped with screens, speakers and a stage.

“We are confident that once again this city will host a safe and successful January 8 statement event, as it did in 2009,” said Pakati.

He was referring to the era when the party was faced with a revolt from within, as party members decided to form the breakaway party COPE following the Polokwane conference outcome which saw former president Thabo Mbeki being recalled eight months before the end of his term of office.

All eyes are on the newly elected NEC, which will decide today whether to recall Zuma or not.

The executive structure will meet for the first time since it was elected into office at the party’s national conference last month.

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