No amount of champagne, cakes or booze-fuelled parties can mask the reality of the what the ANC has become.
Showers late. More sun than clouds. Cool.
Bloemfontein - On Sunday, I was late and bedraggled getting to the ANC
conference, dragging my suit-case and looking every bit the flustered female.
The plenary sessions, where all the action is, are held in a huge and beautiful
tent bedecked in flowing green, black and gold.
It's hot as hell in there but it is lovely with stepped platforms, chandeliers
and big screen TV screens so you can see what's happening on-stage no matter
where you sit. A kind young marshall took pity on me and grabbed my
suit-case, escorted me in and put me in the middle of the Kwa-Natal delegation
to find a perch.
It is the delegation with the highest number of delegates at the conference -
Jacob Zuma's army if you like. It was a good vantage point from which to
take a look at the president from an angle we don't inspect often enough.
Yet it offered every explanation for why Zuma will triumph this week and
why the ANC will keep winning elections.
The delegation was not militant, as I had expected from experience reporting
the party's conference at Polokwane in 2007 where they, like Zuma, felt under
siege. The split was about six men out of every ten delegates;
largely black with a sprinkle of highly vocal Indian loyalists. I spotted
a single white woman wearing ANC colours. The women in the delegation
looked like they role-modeled their image on various of the Zuma wives and
seemed as smitten with the president as the first ladies.
Nobody sang "Awulethu 'Mshiniwami", the militant presidential anthem,
but as Zuma entered the tent and started speaking, the aisles rocked in
peace-time song and two fingers were raised in the symbol for a second term.
The delegates looked prosperous in the way of a new middle-class, not glossy
like an elite, but like a generation with a bit more than their parents. Most
had phones, lap-tops and conference apparel from ANC green fans, to dashikis
featuring Zuma's image and the official conference golf shirts. These are
people with ANC in the marrow. And who see their rising prosperity as a
function of their government and president.
I guess that most of the people here who are employed, work in the state. The
ANC, under Zuma, has significantly boosted public sector jobs and there is lots
more to come as the public works programme grows and the infrastructure
building plans start.
If it happens and is executed well, the infrastructure plans will weather-proof
the 2014 election for the governing party.
Zuma is not the world's best speaker, so even here in his most loyal seats,
people nodded off as he picked his way through a technocrat's political report.
It was not a populist report but they dutifully clapped at his promise of
jobs and more free education. While we in the chattering classes
may pick apart the speech for meaning, for the bulk of the delegates here,
the importance lies not in what Zuma says, but what he is: one of them, a
man made good, the expression of their potential. A love-brand in marketing
So, the meta-narrative we in the media and political analyst classes speak - of
decline, corruption, failure - gets no traction in these seats, possibly because
the experience of the president and the party is different depending on your
life circumstance and political history. Here, there is a different
consensus: the ANC has its problems, but it's not doing badly at all.
And, yes, the President may be building himself a sprawling estate, but what's
the problem with that? It may be yet another symbol of realisable aspiration,
just as Zuma himself is.
24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.
These drivers have some unconventional training methods to prep for F1.
Even princess's need help! Kate shares her struggles with early motherhood.
Baby Archie’s secret godparents have been unmasked.
Popular racing series returns to Netflix this February.
But why do women who fight back get backlash?
Over 120 000 trees will be used to create The Great Labyrinth of Africa.
It's all thanks to Pantone's colour of the year.
A SA favourite makes it into the trolley of Hollywood A-listers.
Cape Townemerge R580 000.00 - R620 000.00 Per Year
Cape Town Southern Suburbs1st Contact T/A Sable International
Cape TownemergeR600 000.00 - R700 000.00 Per Year
R 13 950
R 1 195 000
Apartments / Flats
R 9 400
We subscribe to the Press Code.
You choose what you want
News24 on Android
Get the latest from News24 on your Android device.
Terms and Conditions
24.com Terms and Conditions - Updated April 2012
Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.
This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.