Bloem ready for ANC centenary party
Bloemfontein - Businesses and residents of Bloemfontein on Thursday said they were fully prepared for the influx of people coming into town for the ANC centenary celebrations at the weekend.
The Mangaung metropolitan municipality has been putting the finishing touches to the streets of Bloemfontein in preparation for the celebrations. Workers throughout the city were seen emptying dustbins, collecting refuse, cutting lawns, and trimming unruly vegetation.
The gold, green and black colours of the ANC could be seen on almost every street lamp pole around town, some drumming up support for the celebrations, and others carrying messages of thanks to southern African countries such as Namibia and Zimbabwe for supporting the party during the apartheid years.
Local street sweeper Paskalina Tlali said the municipality expected her to work harder to keep ahead of a potential build-up of rubbish over the weekend.
"There will be a lot of people, and a lot of litter to clean up. The municipality wants the streets to be clean all the time," she said.
Spur manager Shaun Kelly said his restaurant was fully prepared to cater for hungry attendees.
"We have stocked up on extras, and even went out of our way to get expensive whiskey, like [Johnnie Walker] Blue Label. We are really looking forward to seeing some famous people in the restaurant."
Kelly said he was not sure whether celebrations were necessary.
"One-hundred years is a big deal, and the ANC have come a long way. But a friend of mine is helping to construct the stage in the stadium, and I've seen pictures of it.
"It's all a big waste, and it is almost like they [the ANC] are showing off. It is a lot of expenditure for nothing. Come to the townships, I will show you where they need to spend their money," he said.
A security guard at the Waterfront mall said he felt disappointed because he would not be able to attend the celebrations.
"I have to be here, I am not going because of the job," Molatudie Mokoai said.
"This celebration is special. I am a member of the ANC and I am 100% proud of them. All I need to do is find a [ANC] t-shirt."
Maleseto Mokoena, a fruit vendor outside the Performance Arts Centre of the Free State, said her supply of fruit would be exhausted before the celebrations began.
"It is the same as the World Cup. A lot of people will be here, and my business will be busy and all my stocks will finish," she said.
"This [centenary] is important, and everyone must celebrate because the ANC is big in the world."
Louwna Erasmus, editor of local newspaper Bloemfontein Courant, said Bloemfontein was the perfect place to celebrate the history of politics in the country.
"The ANC started here, and so did the National Party. So Bloemfontein is an important part of the history of South Africa," she said.
The National Party, the former ruling party of the country during the apartheid era, was formed by Afrikaner nationalists in Bloemfontein in 1914.
More than 100 000 people were expected to attend the centenary celebrations in the same province, where the South African Native National Congress was founded on January 8 1912. It was renamed the African National Congress in 1923.
The army as well as over 3 000 police have been deployed to ensure security, particularly because of the heads of state who have confirmed their attendance.
They include Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe, Nigeria's Goodluck Jonathan and Uganda's Yoweri Museveni.
It was still unclear if former president Nelson Mandela would attend the celebrations.