Zumania like wild fire

Eric Naki

Eric Naki

Supporters of ANC president Jacob Zuma dominated the crowd that gathered and cheered their hero at the organisation's 96th anniversary rally in Tshwane on Saturday.

Atteridgeville's Super Stadium was filled to capacity and members of the SAPS, Tshwane metro police, the police's special unit and marshals had their hands full as they struggled to contain the noisy crowd that tried to reach and touch Zuma as he walked down to greet them inside the stadium.

The well-attended rally was also attended by ANC members from as far afield as KwaZulu-Natal, Free State and Eastern Cape, who mostly arrived in buses to hear their hero making his first January 8 statement.

Outside the stadium, people milled around and motorists struggled to find parking space because vehicles were parked along the township streets without official traffic control.

Some of the crowd spilt over to the nearby ground where they seemed content to watch Msholozi from a giant screen.

Despite the poor sound provided through the system and SABC broadcasting, the crowds roared in response to every statement that Zuma made as he called for unity, the strengthening of the ANC-led tripartite alliance and gender equality at every level of the ANC.

He said the ANC would work "tirelessly to resolve the difficulties facing the alliance".

At the conclusion of his speech, Zuma sang three songs in succession and finishing with his signature tune awuleth'umshini wam that sent the crowd wild.

As with last month's ANC national conference in Polokwane, the crowd either cheered or booed every name of NEC members they supported or despised, as mentioned by master of ceremony and party national chairman Baleka Mbete. It was good that Mbeki did not attend the rally, because the mention of his name and his achievements saw some Zuma supporters shouting "that dog".

Zuma said the ANC manifesto in the run-up to its centenary in 2012 would be based on the Freedom Charter and the resolutions taken in Polokwane would form the ANC's programme of action for the next five years.