ANC bans alcohol from its elective conference
This year's ANC's national conference has proved to be the most sober elective gathering of the party in the last decade, with alcohol completely banned from the conference venue.
The governing party has also prevented the more than 4700 voting delegates from visiting drinking holes during the sessions of the conference while their bags are thoroughly searched through x-ray scanners.
This is a departure from the practice at previous elective conferences where delegates freely enjoyed alcohol and spent long nights at pubs and night clubs.
Some liquor companies even provided sponsored alcoholic beverages at the Mangaung conference in 2012.
ANC national spokesman Zizi Kodwa said the alcohol ban was imposed to ensure the sobriety of delegates to allow them to make positive contributions to conference.
Kodwa said the liquor ban was proving effective as delegates have been in their best behaviour since the conference started on Saturday.
"We have to learn from our previous experiences and take these decisions to prevent unruly behaviour. Some people will go to Soweto and drink heavy spirits and come back with contribution that does not help the conference," he said.
Kodwa added the party had taken the decision to beef up security to deal with disruptive behaviour. "The rules of the conference, which are still to be adopted, are very clear on this. We will take you out without touching the ground, but we are happy with how the plenary has been."
Earlier this month, the Gauteng government issued a statement warning that it would not tolerate illegal sale of alcohol after media reports that alcohol outlets were planning on extending their trading hours.
In the statement economic development MEC Lebogang Maile predicted the conference would bring some economic spin-offs, especially for the hospitality sector. But insisted that "liquor trading hours will not be extended".
"Our inspectors will be on the look-out working closely with law enforcement," he said.