Bernice Swartz, an ANC Gauteng delegate, proudly shows off her outfit. Picture: Tshego Lepule
Johannesburg - Fancy cars and revamped party regalia were the order of the day as the ANC national policy conference got under way at the Nasrec Expo Centre near Soweto on Friday.

About 3 000 ANC delegates are in Johannesburg for the week-long conference where members will thrash out policy issues.

And they are there in style.

Although most delegates were brought by bus from hotels across the city, the centre’s parking lot was packed with luxury cars - from Land Rovers and several Porsche Cayennes to a wide range of BMWs and Mercedes-Benzes.

But the cars were not the only things turning heads. Delegates showcased their fashionable take on party regalia from the outset.

For one delegate from Gauteng, her appearance encompassed her leadership preference.

Stalls of vendors around the Johannesburg Nasrec Expo Centre showcasing the ANC regalia that’s on sale for delegates who are looking to stand out from the crowd. Picture: Tshego Lepule

Bernice Swarts rocked in a traditional peplum-styled dress, complete with takkies painted in ANC colours. To complete the look, her nails were also painted in ANC colours, with CR17 inscribed. CR17 has been associated with Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa’s campaign to succeed President Jacob Zuma.

“There is no secret about who I’m supporting,” she laughed.

A vendor at the conference, Angelo Kabwe, said the trends at conference had changed dramatically over the years from simple T-shirts to fashionable outfits.

“People like things that they’ve never seen before. They want to get dressed up and stand out in a crowd of 1000 delegates who are wearing the exact same colours,” he said.

“And they like branded things as well. As long as they have ANC colours and have the party’s logo then they will be the favourites.

“The youth league especially likes fashionable things.

"It is no longer just about wearing party T-shirts, ANC people are into fashion and it is our job to make them look good.

“We have all sorts of dresses for the women, jackets, shirts, scarves, caps and even suits.”

Bernice Swartz shows off her manicure. Picture: Tshego Lepule

Kabwe said the price tag for his merchandise for men ranged from R300 to R2 500 and from R400 to R800 for women.

Another growing trend is the incorporation of traditional wear into ANC regalia.

For 60-year-old Landiwe Saka from the Eastern Cape, who together with a group of women hand-makes traditional outfits, it's a question of capitalising on this trend to gain more customers.

“We started making accessories with the beads in the party’s colours and when we saw how those were liked we decided to branch off into other traditional garments. We make skirts, waistcoats, full six-piece dresses which are worn by ministers,” she said.

“This provides work for a lot of young women who take pride in hand-making these items of clothing but also in seeing that we remind people where we come from through the clothing that we make.”

Weekend Argus