ANC class division a world apart

Justice Malala

Justice Malala

There is no apartheid at the ANC's conference in Polokwane, but there are distinct class divisions.

Three groupings have emerged: the tent people, the street people and the lounge people.

These people are as different, and as far apart, as one can be in the ANC today. The tent people are largely poor delegates, the street people largely independent-minded individuals while the lounge people are filthy rich - or want to be.

The tent people are the ordinary delegates who have arrived in buses and mini-bus taxis. They are served their food in the tents and receive a staple of rice or pap, meat or chicken, vegetables and some chips if they are lucky. Bottled water is in abundant supply.

Politically, these are the masses who have been singing and dancing and largely voting Jacob Zuma into power.

The street people are the delegates and leaders who feel a hankering for some serious home-style cooking. Outside Gate 2 ladies who cook delicious-smelling pap and meat do a brisk trade at lunch time.

This grouping is not exclusive at all: anyone who feels like it takes a seat. The food is cheap at most stalls.

On Monday former SANDF chief Siphiwe Nyanda and Jacob Zuma's chief strategist, Mo Shaik, were seen sitting down to one of these meals.

The last grouping goes to the Network Lounge, a space specially created for corporates to entertain guests. It is heavily populated by the BEE class and cabinet ministers.

Typically, they arrive in massive 4x4s (the Porsche Cayenne and Range Rover are favourites) and go straight to the air-conditioned lounge where they are offered fabulous wines.

On Monday evening Sports Minister Ngconde Balfour could be seen squeezed into a chair while all around him his staffers quaffed Rupert & Rothschild wine.

Here can be found ANC bigwigs like Smuts Ngonyama, who once said: "I did not join the struggle to be poor."

It is a world as far away from the tent as the distance between the Mbeki and Zuma camps. It is almost insurmountable.