A STORM warning brought proceedings at the ANC’s national conference in Mangaung grinding to a halt – but it wasn’t the political kind.

Journalists thought something big was up when they were called to a briefing by ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe at the media centre on the Free State University campus, which started just after 4pm yesterday.

“We have adjourned the plenary and advised all delegates to go to solid structures because emergency disaster services have given us a precautionary notice that there is a storm coming,” he said.

He also advised journalists and media organisations to remain indoors in buildings and evacuate marquees set up for television broadcasts.

ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu said the ANC didn’t want anybody to become a “victim to this Mangaung storm”.

“I’m not clear what you are saying… Are you guys talking metaphorically or is there a real storm?” one journalist asked, to general hilarity.

“Next (question),” said Mthembu. “Maybe we should have left you to the storm.”

Was Mantashe aware of delegates saying the storm was a curse of the ANC’s ancestors, another journalist asked.

“We said we wouldn’t respond to questions we can’t answer,” said Mthembu.

A call to the Bloemfontein weather bureau after the briefing elicited the information that general thundershowers were expected, “nothing severe”.

Later, this information trickled through to the ANC, which said in a statement “the storms as predicted were not as heavy as anticipated”.

“The ANC has been given clearance to continue utilising all the marquees in all venues of the conference,” it said.

And thus Mangaung 2012 was back in action.