For people who make a living selling ANC regalia, the ANC conference is a gold mine. Picture: Mpiletso Motumi
Johannesburg -  Reconciliation Day was celebrated around the country in many different ways.

While most people chose to braai and spend the day with friends, many others spent theirs encouraging and celebrating the ANC as the 54th national conference took place.

While President Jacob Zuma was giving his address to delegates from around the country, food vendors and merchandisers made the most of the first day of the conference.

Watson Mandiwana came from Joe Slovo Park in Eldorado Park to make some profits from the five-day conference.

Watson Mandiwana says he is ready to make some profit from the 5-day conference. Picture: Mpiletso Motumi

“We woke up at 5am to make sure we get here and set up on time. We need to make sure that when the delegates are hungry there is enough food to eat. So we ration and cook enough food to make sure it’s a constant feed,” he said.

Mandiwana works with two other people. One prepares the food, he cooks it and the other packs it for the customers.

The meals cost R50.

“So we are always busy and these types of events take long to finish so we can’t leave until it is over because it will cost us. The money we make depends on how many delegates come but rallies are the ones, we work really well there and make a real profit.”

For Nkayezi Tshaka, buying and selling ANC merchandise is his survival.

Nkanyezi Tshoko says selling ANC regalia has sustained him financially. Picture: Mpiletso Motumi

“I stock the merchandise myself and then employ people to sell it. It is a business for me. I don’t just sell at conferences but I also sell in town. It keeps us working. When I lost my job this is the one thing I could do,” he said.

The bright red jumpsuit is a bestseller and so are the caps.

“People love buying the clothes because they are beautiful. People see the quality and they buy.”

Though he is not a delegate he said his vote was firmly with Cyril Ramaphosa.

“I am CR17 all the way.”

Other friends of delegates were also in tune with Tshoko.

Rantaudi Mashoabathi,  Jwalane Mokoena and Mmamaile Ndlangisa from the Matela Ratsomo branch, Ward 1 in Metsimaholo, Free State, said: "We're excited to be here, we can see that Cyril Ramaphosa is going to win."

"What makes us happy is that Ace Magashule is no longer participating in the conference, we no longer want him. We've suffered a lot under him.”

"We are more than confident Ramaphosa will win this weekend."

“We didn't vote because they couldn't form a quorum at our BGM. Tried to steal delegates by forging signatures, we were excluded because we support Ramaphosa and Magashule did not want Ramaphosa.”

Eastern Cape members Noloyiso Tshayingwe, from the Qutsa branch in the Chris Hani region, said she was excited to be at the conference with her fellow delegates. She also said she hoped Ramaphosa emerged victorious from the 54th conference.

Another member who did not want to be named, threw her weight behind Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and expressed hope that she would be the first female to lead the party.

"I will be saddened if NDZ doesn't win. since 1912 we've never had the opportunity to lead the party. However, it's still ok if Ramaphosa wins because at the end of the day, it's the party that wins," she said.