PoliticsNews & AnalysisFriends and enemies at ANC centenary


Posted on Friday, 06 January 2012 18:48

Friends and enemies at ANC centenary

By Crystal Van Wyk

President Jacob Zuma has urged South Africans to attend the ANC's centenary celebrations on Sunday as thousands of people make their way to Managuang in the country's Free State province, ahead of the weekend's centenary celebrations.

President Jacob Zuma wants all South Africans to attend ANC's centenary celebrations/Photo/ReutersAbout 46 heads of state will be among the 6000 invited guests from neighbouring countries such as Zimbabwe and from as far afield as Germany, Sweden and India. Some of those expected to be in attendance are Nigeria's Goodluck Jonathan and Zambia's Michael Sata, while Zimbabwe's Vice President Joice Mujuru will represent her country.

Former heads of state that will attend the 100th celebrations include Ghana's Jerry Rawlings, Namibia's Sam Nujoma, Zambia's Kenneth Kuanda and Mozambique's Joachim Chissano.

More than 100,000 people were expected to attend the centenary celebrations where the South African Native National Congress was founded on January 8, 1912. It was renamed the African National Congress in 1923.

Talking to communities ahead of the weekend's celebrations, President Zuma said, "we have come to thank our ancestors, our heroes, our cadres, our volunteers who sacrificed in the course of the struggle, we are going to be explaining to our people, what makes the ANC different from other organisations".

But the country's first black president, anti-Apartheid icon, Nelson Mandela will be absent at the celebrations. The 93-year-old former president is reportedly too frail to travel.

Nobel Peace Laureate Desmond Tutu, a moral force at the height of the ANC's campaign to bring about an end to oppression, but now increasingly critical of the ruling party, will also be among the guests.

The army as well as more than 3000 police officers had been deployed to ensure security, particularly because of the heads of state who have confirmed their attendance. Business and residents of Mangaung said they were fully prepared for the influx of people visiting for the ANC centenary celebrations.

Zwelinzima Vavi from South Africa's largest trade union movement, Cosatu said the union is "extremely proud to be in alliance with the oldest liberation movement in the African continent".

"The ANC has been the torchbearer of the African continent, the fountain of hope to millions of the oppressed and exploited masses of our people, a colossal giant whose track record in the struggle is unparalleled anywhere in the world," Vavi said.

"This year we are actually celebrating not just the institution called the ANC, because that institution is an organic expression of the collective struggles of our people initially led by their traditional leaders, as they resisted wars against dispossession of land. And we are therefore celebrating a struggle, whose collective experience is embodied in the ANC."

South African political analyst, Oscar van Heerden said, "I think this weekend we are going to be reminded of what a milestone has been achieved and of what a feat it has been to achieve the centenary."

"The past three years have not been a shining moment for the party, people have been disillusioned in and outside of the party, there's been a politics of retribution and its been rife with factionalism."

Hopefully, Manguang will be the start of the "healing process" of the movement, ahead of the crucial elective conference in December, added van Heerden.

Meanwhile, suspended ANC Youth League President Julius Malema said he is optimistic that the ruling party's centenary celebrations will bring about lasting solutions to social challenges. Speaking in Mangaung, Malema urged ANC members to be disciplined and refrain from bringing the party into disrepute, arguing that the ANC will not achieve its goals if there are divisions and infighting.

ANC chairperson, Baleka Mbete said, "all South Africans and people of the continent and the world are again invited to grace this auspicious occasion".

Last Updated on Friday, 06 January 2012 19:23

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