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By Getrude Makhafola

Premium Journalist

ANC55 in numbers: 6 700 delegates, 5 days, still no money

For the first time in the history of the ANC, media houses are required to pay for workspace at Nasrec, due to the party's financial conundrum.

The Nasrec Expo Centre in the south of Johannesburg will once again host the African National Congress (ANC) elective conference from Friday, with 6 700 delegates expected to form part of the five-day-long gathering.

This is at least a thousand people more compared to the 2017 conference where President Cyril Ramaphosa walked away the victor.

The gathering takes place every five years and rotates across provinces. However, with the ANC’s bankruptcy and heavy debt burden, most major party events are being held in Gauteng to cuts costs.

For the first time in the history of the party, media houses are also required to cough up in order to utilise a booth exclusively at the event. The minimum cost for the smallest booth is at least R5 000.

National spokesperson Pule Mabe blamed this on the “withdrawal of sponsorship” by one of the ANC’s sponsors.

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Additionally, there will be invited guests, local and international journalists, service providers such as caterers, security personnel, staff and police officers who will be manning the venue until Monday.

Nasrec has a capacity of 20 000, including parking space for more than 10 000 vehicles.

The party’s national policy conference was held in July at the same venue.

Voting delegates

In the lead-up to the crucial conference, more than 4 000 branches across the country nominated candidates for the top six positions – president, deputy president, chairperson, secretary-general, deputy secretary-general, treasurer-general and the separate nomination of additional 200 NEC members.

In a new proposition, the governing party wants to add a second deputy secretary-general to be elected at the 55th conference, bringing the top leadership number to seven.

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The party’s no-nonsense security will allow only accredited individuals with tags into the venue.

Of the 6 700 delegates, 4 519 are voting delegates.

At least 4 068 of them are from the branches in each of the nine provinces.

Delegates per province

The 2017 conference had more than 6 000 delegates and 4 731 voting delegates compared to this year’s gathering.

KwaZulu-Natal, which is the biggest in terms of party membership, is sending 881 delegates, 11 more people compared to 2017.

Voting delegates per province can be broken down as:

  • KwaZulu-Natal – 881
  • Eastern Cape – 659
  • Limpopo – 598
  • Gauteng – 469
  • Mpumalanga – 368
  • North West – 329
  • Western Cape – 263
  • Free State – 252
  • Northern Cape – 249

The ANC Youth League, Women’s League and the Veterans’ League, all known as the “leagues”, will send 75 delegates in total with each organisation having 25 voters. This is because none of the structures was able to hold its own conference and elect new leaders. All are currently led by task teams.

Heavy media presence

According to ANC insiders, more than 900 journalists applied for accreditation.

“Not everyone on that media list was accredited, the number was too much. They had to cut the number down to a little over 400 people from media houses,” said the source who wouldn’t be named because they are not allowed to talk to the media.

The conference will officially get underway on Friday.

A gala dinner will be held on Thursday at the same venue.

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