ANC, govt dig deep into pockets for centenary

2012-01-06 07:59

The city of Bloemfontein is abuzz with the preparations for the ANC centenary celebrations – which has a multimillion-rand price tag – this weekend.

Baleka Mbete, national chairperson of the ANC, relocated temporarily to Bloemfontein since late last year to oversee the preparations.

The cost of the party’s celebration was said to be R100 million – a figure Mbete has released. However, the total cost is estimated at close to R300 million if related spending on infrastructure by the Free State provincial government is taken into account.

The provincial department of public works and rural development has budgeted for projects which include R15 million to revamp Free State house – the official home of premier Ace Magasule and the building of a heritage park in front of Mapikela house in Batho location, Bloemfontein. The house itself, which belonged to Thomas Mapikela – a founding member of the ANC – is due to be upgraded by the provincial department of sports, arts and culture for R7.5 million.

This department is also upgrading the Seisa Ramadobdu stadium, in Rocklands, and the Wesleyan church in Waaihoek, where the ANC was formed.

Contrary to claims by the provincial government that the renovation of the church would be funded by the Mangaung Metro, the department has budgeted R73.1 million for the project.

The upgrade of the Seisa Ramabodu stadium – which is in part being done because of the centenary celebrations – is in full swing.

A total of R3.2 million was budgeted in this financial year for the upgrading of the stadium. The project, which is going to be phased in over three years, will cost R200 million.

These details are contained in an overview of the spending of the Free State provincial government for the 2011/2012 financial year.

Mbete, reacting to criticism from opposition parties that the ANC is using government resources for the celebrations, said it was the mandate of the department of sport, arts and culture to pay for heritage sites.

“I would like to do some research on how things stand in terms of resources being use to celebrate and maintain heritage sites of the different communities in South Africa. What I learned so far is that out of approximately 16 museums in the province only one showcases the history of black South Africa,” she said.

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