As the ANC’s big guns descend on Kimberley in the Northern Cape on Tuesday to start mobilising community members for the party’s January 8 celebrations this week, the Northern Cape Chamber of Commerce & Industry has raised concerns regarding a lack of accommodation in the town, as well as Kimberley’s limited supply of clean water.
The chamber’s chief executive officer, Sharon Steyn, told City Press that the ANC had barely communicated with businesses about what could be expected during the week.
“I believe that Kimberley is honoured to have an event like this, but, no, we don’t have the capacity,” she said.
Steyn said she had been inundated with calls from business owners who want information about the event, but she was also unsure of the details.
“Nothing has been communicated to businesses. I can’t even send information to them. I’ve spoken to the premier [Zamani Saul]. I’ve also spoken to the mayor [Patrick Mabilo], saying we need to prepare businesses because they have no idea how many people are coming to Kimberley,” she said.
City Press previously reported on complaints by community members in the town regarding water shortages and the dirty water that had been flowing from their taps.
Steyn said she had reservations about whether there would be sufficient water for the duration of the celebrations: “When the rush comes into the city, there’s going to be water, but will there be enough? I don’t know.”
However, Northern Cape secretary Deshi Ngxangxa said they were ready to host an event of this magnitude, explaining that they had been able to galvanise support in different communities throughout the province.
Ngxangxa said they were anticipating having to accommodate the 35 000 to 40 000 guests who would be attending the rally at the Tafel Lager Park stadium.
“ANC volunteers are working in the five regions in the Northern Cape, along with our provincial executive committee members.
“We’ve made provisions for transport to ferry those who want to attend the event,” he said, adding that 90% of the attendees were expected to be residents in Kimberley.
“We’re also expecting international guests, as well as people from other provinces, particularly the Free State, because they said they wouldn’t send fewer than 60 buses.”
ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa and the party’s top six officials are expected to make their first public appearance ahead of the celebrations on Wednesday at the Mayibuye Cultural Centre in Kimberley, where he will lead the cake-cutting ceremony to mark the party’s anniversary.
Members of the national executive committee, including Thandi Modise, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Thoko Didiza, will be visiting smaller towns in the province, including Upington, Springbok, Colesberg and Kathu.
Ngxangxa insists that the relevant arrangements have been made to ensure that visitors do not experience any of the concerns raised by the province’s chamber of commerce.
“We initiated communications with the chamber in September last year and we’ve been meeting with them regularly about issues of accommodation and how businesses in general will be affected by the celebrations.
“I can give you the assurance that the water here is drinkable and there are no problems with it,” he said.
The province last hosted the event in 2010, when the party turned 89.
“We’ll do better than we did last time because now we have experience and we’re confident that we won’t repeat the same mistakes,” he said.
Political journalist | City Press
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