All eyes on Ramaphosa to show leadership as ANC gathers to celebrate 108th birthday
Kimberley - After months of preparation and mass mobilisation by party leaders, party supporters and members have already started convening at Kimberley’s Tafel Lager park to celebrate 108 years of the ANC's formation in 1912.
For President Cyril Ramaphosa, facing the crowd would be a challenge he would like to quickly overcome as he faces a nation battered by load-shedding. The country will be expecting answers or at least assurances that the crisis is being adequately attended.
He also has to deal with the fallout following the sudden resignation of the chairperson of the board of Eskom, Jabu Mabuza.
Mabuza resigned on Friday night after allegedly misleading Ramaphosa over the summer load-shedding crisis.
Closely watching the event, Durban-based political analyst, Xolani Dube of Xubera Institute said Ramaphosa is unlikely to use the rally to project himself as a man in control of the party by hitting back at his deputy, David Mabuza, who threw him a curve ball when he exposed the “lies” by the Eskom board over load-shedding.
Dube said Ramaphosa likes to play nice in ANC platforms as he is well aware of the fact that he is not fully in charge.
“Ramaphosa is not a combative man, he is not confrontational. He behaves like a manager of a company than a politician. He will just read what was prepared for him and leave. However, he will use other platforms like when he meets with business people (the constituency he represents) to hit back at DD and other internal critics,” Dube said.
Among the pertinent issues that Ramaphosa is expected to dwell on in his lengthy speech is the issue of land, the stagnating economy, struggling state-owned companies, the call to nationalise the Reserve Bank, ANC factional issues and the Eskom crisis which has resulted in crippling load shedding.
Although there was a slow start to the programme, party faithfuls had, by 8am on Saturday started filling up Tafel Lager Park, a stadium with a capacity of 11 000 seated people. Most of them had settled on one side of the stadium waiting for the leadership to arrive and kick off the formal programme.
By 9am, Jessie Duarte, the deputy secretary-general of the party, was the only member who was seen moving around ensuring that guests are seated according.
Later, former AU chairperson, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was seen walking into the stadium which was at that time half full with supporters kept entertained by musical items from various groups.