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By Citizen Reporter

Journalist


#ANC55 day 1 wrap: ‘This is war’ as chaos erupts at Nasrec

Ramaphosa's foes try to derail his campaign after late start to ANC conference.


A shambolic start to the ANC's 55th national conference at Nasrec on Friday saw Cyril Ramaphosa's political enemies making a noisy, ill-discipline attempt to derail his presidential campaign. When Ramaphosa took the podium more than six hours later than scheduled, he was visibly irritated by singing, shouting and dancing delegates from the party's KwaZulu-Natal region. They banged on tables and attempted to drown out the president as he began to deliver his political report to the conference. Earlier, Ramaphosa's arch-enemy, former president Jacob Zuma, had entered the hall with a flourish, provoking an outburst of singing from the KZN delegates,…

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A shambolic start to the ANC’s 55th national conference at Nasrec on Friday saw Cyril Ramaphosa’s political enemies making a noisy, ill-discipline attempt to derail his presidential campaign.

When Ramaphosa took the podium more than six hours later than scheduled, he was visibly irritated by singing, shouting and dancing delegates from the party’s KwaZulu-Natal region. They banged on tables and attempted to drown out the president as he began to deliver his political report to the conference.

Earlier, Ramaphosa’s arch-enemy, former president Jacob Zuma, had entered the hall with a flourish, provoking an outburst of singing from the KZN delegates, some of whom brandished banners with his face on them.

The KZN delegates also sang in support of former health minister Zweli Mkhize, who is Ramaphosa’s main challenger for the presidential spot.

They sang songs like “Ramaphosa awusitshele uZuma wenzeni” (“Ramaphosa tell us what Zuma did”).

They also chanted “Phala Phala” and “load shedding”.

Ramaphosa chastised them for their behaviour, saying it made South Africa and the ANC look bad in front of invited international guests and ordinary South Africans.

ALSO READ: #ANC55: Ramaphosa to remain at helm

Glitches in registration process

Earlier, the chaotic registration process was held up by the KZN delegates as evidence that the Ramaphosa faction was trying to deliberately exclude them from the conference.

At the registration centre at the University of South Africa offices in Ormonde, ANC KZN provincial spokesperson Mafika Mndebele insinuated the delays were an attempt to neutralise his province’s influence, saying “it’s war”.

“We call on our members to be calm,” he said. “As KZN, we said from the onset that this is not going to be an easy process.

“This is a war … this is about the lives of our people … even [if] we stay here until midnight, we call for a smooth process.”

ALSO READ: ANC55: Accreditation crisis on first day of conference

Earlier, ANC “dissidents” Carl Niehaus, Lindiwe Sisulu and Ace Magashule staged an mini rally outside the venue, calling for Ramaphosa to step aside because of the news that Zuma is to bring a private prosecution against him.

Later, Magashule was prevented from entering the conference area.

The registration process, which saw frequent computer glitches, was blamed for the fact that the conference began late.

Delays and disruptions

Ramaphosa was due to deliver his report just after 10am, but only began well after 4pm.

It is not known whether the delays and disruptions will cascade further into the conference programme.

Tight security, singing delegates and a sea of the black, green and gold colours of the ANC were in evidence all over Johannesburg Expo Centre at Nasrec.

A plenary hall, set to accommodate thousands of visitors for the conference, was divided into sections for each of the different provinces, with wrapped chairs and ceilings covered in ANC colours reflecting a scenery of the “ANC world”.

While the ambiance of the conference was one of excitement it was also surrounded by tension among the delegates.

In terms of excitement, delegates were fully draped in ANC regalia, along with ANC marshals dressed in the party’s vintage clothing, looking eager and ready for what lay ahead at the conference.

The ANC Women’s league members from the Mpumalanga province, along with delegates from Gauteng, were also seen dancing and showing their support for Ramaphosa.

NOW READ: Magashule claims he was nominated for ANC NEC, but disqualified from standing

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