Singing and dancing set celebratory tone for NGC

2010-09-21 08:38

The Durban Exhibition Centre and surrounds were draped in the colours of the ANC yesterday, the first day of the ruling party’s mid-term indaba.

Stems of some palm trees and street poles on streets adjacent to the venue were wrapped with the black, green and gold flag of the party.

As top businessmen, sports administrators and ordinary delegates started streaming in, a group of delegates from a KwaZulu-Natal region sang a song asking people to pray for President Jacob Zuma.

This was perhaps a reference to the fact that the ANC leader faces political hurdles within the party.

The challenges he faces include increased criticism from his former allies in Cosatu and the ANC Youth League, as well as rumours that some of his comrades want to prevent him from serving a second term.

However, Zuma got a warm reception from the packed hall. As he walked in flanked by his long-term aide, Lakela Kaunda, and bodyguards, delegates broke into song and dance.

His wives, who sat in the front row of the hall, were also well-received.

But once the formalities had been dispensed with, the mood turned sombre as the President began delivering his hard-hitting political report.

Delegates remained quiet when Zuma thanked his absent predecessor, Thabo Mbeki, for gracefully accepting his recall in 2008.

This was despite his body language that suggested he expected a response from them.

However, the hall applauded as he lambasted Mbeki loyalists who resigned from their government positions following his recall.

The ANCYL remained quiet throughout most of Zuma’s speech.

Except when he reminded delegates about party principles which include the requirement that political juniors must respect their seniors.

For the first time, the youth league applauded.

When he insisted that he was going ahead with the municipal cadres’ bill, only a small section clapped hands — perhaps a sign of how unpopular the plan is with party structures.

The registration process on Sunday saw tempers flare as delegates, service providers and the media queued for several hours to get accreditation, despite ANC head office having been supplied with completed registration forms in early September.

All applicants had to be rephotographed at the centre.

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