Hotel accommodation in Mbombela has become a scarce commodity as the ANC and its legions of moneyed members start trickling into Mpumalanga for the party’s 112th celebrations.
Most of the lodgings have indicated that they are fully booked and finding space at short notice is almost impossible as the city sees throngs of travellers already trickling in for the much-anticipated January 8 Statement to be addressed by party president, Cyril Ramaphosa.
Most members of the ANC national executive committee (NEC) were already in the province as early as Thursday ahead of the ordinary NEC meeting and other preparatory activities to kick-off the week which will begin with a number of wreath-laying luncheons and door-to-door campaigns.
ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula announced that the party was ready to commence with the week-long activities in celebration of the party’s 112th anniversary, saying this year’s statement will focus mainly on crime, corruption and the ongoing electricity crisis.
The governing party marks this milestone birthday amid governance, financial and operational troubles. However, nothing stops the party’s members from splurging on women and alcohol whenever there is a big bash such as the one on Saturday.
This year should be no different as the party enters what many believe to be a testing election season.
Professor Sipho Seepe says this year’s statement is “ likely to be more about smoke and mirrors” as it comes as two former presidents have indicated that they will not be campaigning for the movement that they once led.
Be that as it may, Mbombela is known for its nature-driven fun more than it is known for its nightlife.
It is home to the Chimp Eden, the Sudwala Caves, and the Panorama Route among its attractions but has some hangout spots that will become a hit with visitors from Gauteng and other parts of the world.
One of the venues expected to be a hit with the party-goers is Mustangs – The Dancing Place, whose flyer reads: “Whether is your last weekend before going back to work or it’s your first weekend after being back at work … either way you have an excuse to party with us this weekend."
A young entrepreneur who operates 15 minutes away from Mbombela Stadium charges R 6 500 for a three-day stay at a guest house which includes a game farm experience and shuttle services.
“Business has been good for us at Gaitsiwe Guest House. We are ready for the comrades and our business will cater to their needs as we operate a well-furnished guest house which comes with a game farm experience and a shuttle service for those who want to experience the greatness of Mbombela,” the operator said.
According to SA History Online, the ANC in exile issued its first January 8th Statement in 1972. This statement outlined the organisation’s programme for the year and even though it was followed by a hiatus, the party issued its next statement in 1979.
Since then, the ANC's statement has become a tradition that has been ongoing every year on January 8, with this year’s scheduled for Saturday.