Time and again a little scuffle to grab either an ANC T-shirt or doek broke out as Meadowlands residents in Soweto pushed and shoved to get to the front – and Deputy President David Mabuza’s protectors stepped in.
By midday on Thursday Mabuza had dished out more than 1500 T-shirts and 1100 doeks, raising fears that the party would not meet the demand for the full-day voter activation programme.
Those with the muscle to request back up T-shirts quickly got on their phones and more were delivered in the blink of the eye.
The ANC in Gauteng calls this leg of the campaign Siyanqoba, describing it as a time to “create excitement” in the build up to the general elections on Wednesday.
“For all these T-shirts we have given out they better vote ANC come next week,” a local ANC member said on the sidelines. And his colleague agreed: “They must also fill up Ellis Park stadium on Sunday.”
The governing ANC is hosting its Siyanqoba (we are winning) rally at the 62 000-seater Ellis Park stadium on Sunday, where President Cyril Ramaphosa will deliver the keynote address.
On the same day the EFF will be hosting its Tshela Thupa (we are whipping them) rally in the 40 000- seater Orlando stadium in Soweto, while a day earlier, on Saturday, the DA will be flexing its muscle at nearby 20 000-seater Dobsonville stadium – where Mabuza dished out T-shirts and doeks on Thursday.
“Today is not the day for repeating the manifesto messages. The people have already decided so we are only here to create excitement and get the people in the right mood,” ANC Johannesburg chairperson Geoff Makhubo told City Press when asked why Mabuza did not make a speech.
Makhubo said free T-shirts were an important part of the ANC campaign and signified the love and affinity for the ANC brand.
“You see the logo is on the left, right on top of the heart,” he said.
Mabuza said the opposition was invisible in Soweto and that was a good sign that the ANC would achieve an overwhelming victory in Gauteng.
“It is very exciting and people are happy and they are going to vote for the ANC. Victory is certain, no doubt about it; we are just calculating the percentage.”
“You can see since we were walking here I never met anyone opposing us. It is like smooth sailing,” he said.
Mabuza added “voting did not come easy and we all fought for it so let us take it serious and not betray those who fought for freedom”.
‘Bring back my son’
At another house in Meadowlands Zone 10, Mabuza met Roseline Mashinini, who said she was the mother of ANC activist Khabonina Mashinini.
He never returned home after leaving for Harare in the 80s to join the movement and he died there.
Mabuza softly held MaMashinini’s hands as she slowly told her story and occasionally burst into tears.
Her grandchildren were also unemployed, she said, referring to 33 year old Banu Mashinini – who said he does not not even have a memory of his father because he left for Harare when Banu was a toddler.
Mabuza heard that the family wanted his remains to be brought back home.
They also wanted the street to be named after him. Anything, they said.
“We will bring his remains back,” a close aide of Mabuza told City Press.
Mantwa Molefi, the mother of famous struggle activist Tsietsi Mashinini, quietly stood next to MaMashinini.
Molefi said all she wanted was a bed and stove since her family home burnt down last year and her husband died in it.
But the sombre moment at the Mashinini house did not last long and before Mabuza walked out of the gate at the family home he was mobbed by the T-shirt brigade – so much so that a Johannesburg ANC councillor worried that the gate would fall.
Even the homeless man across the road living at the front gate of the International Pentecost Holiness Church (popularly known as Modise – named after the late pastor Frederick Modise) waved his newly gained doek in the air as the big German cars driving the ANC leadership passed by.
Three-year old Vusi also got his oversized T-shirt that covered his feet and he waved at everyone passing by his front gate to show his excitement.
An elderly woman told City Press that she had no hope of landing the yellow T-shirt because it was too rowdy.
“Some people take three T-shirts each and they even snatch them from others,” she said.
Earlier, the T-shirt Mabuza gave to MaMashinini had also being snatched and City Press assisted to get her another one.
At a later mini rally next to Dobsonville Stadium, Gauteng ANC deputy chairperson Panyaza Lesufi declared the party over as soon as the T-shirts were finished and everyone dispersed – except those who hoped to grab the last T-shirt by any means.
At sunset at Mapops Place, a popular local tavern in Dobsonville’s busy Mphepheto Road, almost every patron was dressed in yellow.