‘No state funds for birthday rally’ – ANC EC

The Eastern Cape ANC’s provincial secretary vowed that no state funds would be used for the party’s January 8 statement and 106th birthday celebrations early next month.

Earlier this month, Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane released a damning report that said more than R300m meant for social infrastructure grants was misspent to organise the funeral of former president Nelson Mandela in 2013.

This week provincial ANC secretary Lulama Ngcukayithobi told City Press that the provincial leadership did not want another “Mandela scandal”.

Mkhwebane’s report said money was misspent on buying T-shirts, fast food and transporting ANC supporters to the statesman’s memorial service. The report implicated senior provincial party leaders in the scandal.

“We have arranged some funding within the coffers of the ANC at a provincial level,” Ngcukayithobi said. “We are working on what
we have.

“There are also private business people who are contributing to the ANC. The national office will share the responsibility for funding the activities because it’s a national event. So there is no government funding that would pay for the rally [on January 8].

“Therefore we won’t have a repeat of the Mandela scandal,” Ngcukayithobi said, adding that the party had already hosted a fundraising dinner in East London last month.

Fresh from its watershed 54th national conference, the governing party will host its 106th birthday celebrations at the Buffalo City Stadium in East London on January 13 – a week after the official anniversary.

Party loyalists from all provinces are expected to converge on the province to hear newly elected ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa deliver his maiden January 8 statement, which will launch a programme of action under his leadership and set the tone for the 2019 general election campaign.

Ngcukayithobi said they would also launch the centenary celebrations for Mandela, who would have turned 100 on July 18 2018. This would also be the main theme for the January 8 event, he said.

The last time the province hosted the January 8 celebrations was in 2009, when now former ANC president Jacob Zuma addressed supporters at the same venue. At the time both the Buffalo City stadium and the adjacent overflow area, the Jan Smuts Stadium, were filled to capacity.

Ngcukayithobi said the Progressive Business Forum had already committed to hosting the gala dinner, which will be held on January 12 at the East London International Convention Centre. The party will hold meetings with the transport industry to discuss how industry players can help with ferrying supporters to the rally.

Ngcukayithobi did not share the estimated costs of the event, saying the details were not yet concluded.

“It is going to be an eventful year for the movement. We are in a renewal mode as the ANC. We are more united and rejuvenated,” he said, adding that they planned to work hard to fill the stadium.

“All the branches that were at the national conference already know that they should be ready for January 8.”

Various billboards around East London already remind the public about the event.

Meanwhile, Mandela’s grandson, Nkosi Mandla Mandela, welcomed Ramaphosa as the new ANC leader and said he hoped the party would continue to fight corruption and abuse of state resources.

“We must not allow ourselves to be framed by the opposition narrative, but it is equally essential that we restore the confidence of our people in the ANC and ensure transparency and accountability in all that we do,” Mandela said.