By Chris Mabuya
CAPE TOWN, Dec 31 — South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC), will be celebrating 103 years since its formation at a national event to be held in the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday, Jan 10, 2015.
In the build-up to the celebrations, the ANC has established a task force comprising senior party leaders from both provincial and national levels to ensure the success of the event.
The 103 years of the ANC coincides with the 60th anniversary of the Freedom Charter, the statement of core principles of the South African Congress Alliance, which consisted of the ANC and its allies — the South African Indian Congress, the South African Congress of Democrats and the Coloured People’s Congress.
ANC Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe has described the day as a milestone, saying the day is of great importance to the ANC.
“It’s quite important in the sense that it is time for renewal, it’s time for reflection and time for looking ahead. So the significance of Jan 8 is to remind ourselves where we come from, and at the same time chart the way forward,” he said Tuesday
Mantashe said the ANC had managed to renew itself all these years even after what he called the more difficult times.
“The most difficult period was the first half of the 1930s, when Pixley ka Isaka Seme was the president, and when the ANC almost collapsed. Today it is very strong. It’s a governing party after 20 years almost a departure from what happened to many liberation movements.”
Mantashe also spoke about the important role of the ANC in the tripartite alliance with the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the South African Communist Party (SACP), since the establishment of multi-racial democracy in April 1994.
“As we go through a difficult period in Cosatu, the ANC cannot sit aside and be a spectator and say Cosatu must find itself to the point of collapse. It has a responsibility to hold and assist Cosatu rediscover the importance of unity.”
It’s the second time since 1994 that the ANC in Western Cape Province has been given the opportunity to host the party’s national event. The first time was in 2006 at Athlone Stadium.
Provincial ANC Secretary Songezo Mjongile, a member of the task force established to organize the celebrations, said: “We are quite excited about this opportunity. You can start to feel the mood, in different communities. It is a national event and it’s expected that national leaders are going to be here to make sure the event is a success.”
Mjongile says two events would take place before the rally at the Cape Town Stadium. “On the 8th, the actual day (of the founding of the ANC), we are going to be at OR Tambo Hall in Khayelitsha where the president will be cutting the cake. Then on the 9th we’ve got the gala dinner and on Saturday we have the big rally, expecting 52,000 people to fill up the stadium, plus 2,500 guests and diplomats.”
Mjongile said invited guests would come from other countries and organizations which had assisted the ANC during the struggle for liberation.