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ANC puts finishing touches to Mangaung venue

Bloemfontein - Two days before the ANC's elective conference in Mangaung, the party was putting the finishing touches to its venue at the University of the Free State.

There was a strong police presence on the campus in Bloemfontein on Friday. Reporters were taken on a tour of the conference venue.

Two days before the ANC's elective conference in Mangaung, the party was putting the finishing touches to its venue at the University of the Free State. Credit: Independent Newspapers

Scaffolding draped with pictures of former and present African National Congress presidents frames the entrance to the main marquee, which can accommodate more than 6000 delegates.

Inside, it is draped with white, green, gold and black fabric, all lit by chandeliers.

During the heated debates, delegates will be kept cool by 40 portable air-conditioners and 60 fans.

Two big screens will be erected near the stage, and 18 plasma screens around the tent.

On stage, there are enough chairs to seat the entire national executive committee.

The tent has a makeshift wooden floor tiered downwards to the stage, at the foot of which bouquets of flowers are arranged.

President Jacob Zuma and ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe will address delegates in the marquee on Sunday, and it is also where they will nominate their preferred candidates to lead the party.

Afterwards, delegates will move to other parts of the campus where commissions on policy will be held.

ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu said a team had been tasked to deal with emergency situations and evacuation if anything should go wrong.

“This structure has been certified, and emergency situations taken into account,” he told reporters during the tour.

Outside the main tent, an area is dedicated to the ANC's “ancestors” who include ANC founder John Dube, anti-apartheid activist lawyer Bram Fischer, Zulu leader Shaka Zulu, and Lesotho's King Moshoeshoe.

Statues of them were provided by the ANC's archive committee, headed by Dali Tambo.

Mthembu said the ANC would like the statues to be placed at a future heritage site in Bloemfontein.

The ANC's national conference starts on Sunday. - Sapa

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