Food security at ANC policy conference

2012-06-28 07:31

Those burlish ANC security guys really messed with my eating plans.

Lunch to the delegates at the ANC’s policy conference is served in a hall adjacent to where policy discussions in closed commissions are taking place.

Read Carien’s previous blog here.

And those areas have been declared off-bounds to journalists. Whether this is only during the sessions or during lunch breaks as well proved to be somewhat of a grey area when the accreditation tags of some journalists were forcefully confiscated by security guards yesterday.

I heroically managed to sneak into the dining hall at lunchtime, after ANC spokesperson Keith Khoza apologised to journalists for not serving them lunch at the media centre.

If arrangements didn’t work out, journalists should dine with delegates, he said.

I took the presence of a few forlorn-looking sandwiches at the media centre, together with the paper cups and teabags next to these, to have been a sign that these arrangements weren’t working, at least not yesterday.

Sadly the lunch served to the delegates – the rank and file at least – wasn’t worth risking one’s life for.

I braved the chicken – stained yellowish by some unidentified spice, possibly turmeric – the pap, which is difficult to mess up in big quantities, some dead vegetables, and mushy crumbed things that looked like fish cakes and tasted a bit fishy too.

The pumpkin, lightly sweetened with cinnamon, was perhaps the most edible of the lot.

No pudding was served, which was either a sign that the ANC is worried about the waistlines of its delegates or that it was doing some belt-tightening of its own.

On Monday, however, bright pink buns with coconut were served for tea. The best thing about them was that they had loads of sugar in them, but it also seemed like a bid to poison delegates or send diabetic delegates into a coma.

Fortunately it has failed, at least so far.

Ministers and national executive committee members have regularly been seen mulling around an entrance below where the dining hall is during lunch times, so presumably they weren’t subjected to the same food, or at least not in the quantities we were.

Sensible delegates, like business mogul Patrice Motsepe, who is attending as a guest, went across the road from the Gallagher Convention Centre to a place that sells traditional food like tripe, morogo and dumplings.

Motsepe is said to have picked the chicken. Seeing that most journalists have given up on the restaurant within Gallagher’s premises – because their service is about as slow as the ANC’s delivery – I might just try that option today, if we have time in between all the promised briefings.

Yesterday morning at the ANC’s Progressive Business Forum breakfast – a posh one to molly-coddle the rich businesspeople – was marginally better because the little croissants with grated cheddar were immensely edible.

But when the cooked food arrived – the scrambled eggs a solid half-circle-shaped mass, some mushrooms in an unidentified sauce, some off-tasting fried onion and a fried tomato I didn’t touch because I don’t like tomatoes – a colleague mused that it tasted like airline food.

She was remarkably spot-on.

I can’t speak for the meat because I had the vegetarian option, which had no added value because it was just the meat option with no meat.

But the continental part of the breakfast was great. Other than the croissants, there were pastries, brie, and cream cheese with chakalaka, as well as bread.

I missed the fruit though, but then again, there are enough fruitloops around at the conference in the form of ANC security guards to keep things interesting today.

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