ANC 'not embarrassed' as lights fail during Ramaphosa's thank-you speech to business

ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa takes to the stage to deliver the keynote address at the party's fundraising dinner on Friday night.
ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa takes to the stage to deliver the keynote address at the party's fundraising dinner on Friday night.
Image: Alaister Russell/The Sunday Times

The ANC says it is not embarrassed after the lights went out at the party's gala dinner while President Cyril Ramaphosa was thanking the business community for its financial support.

Before the lights abruptly went off, Ramaphosa was expressing his gratitude to those who had stood with the ANC.

“Apart from signifying your financial support by being here, this is proof that you still have trust in the ANC. We thank you for helping the ANC achieve sustainability and stability — for having the courage to come tonight to be associated with the ANC,” he said.

Ramaphosa had just assured business that economic recovery plans were afoot and that the ANC renewal project was not just a pipe dream. The president had also admitted that the ANC NEC was concerned about security breaches that led to attacks on institutions such as parliament.

He was whisked out by his security detail and the Deputy President David Mabuza and national chairperson Gwede Mantashe also left.

Electricity was restored 15 minutes later.

Ramaphosa had to finish his speech in the dark and project his natural voice as the power went off.

After the speech, he and his deputy, David Mabuza, were immediately escorted out of the venue.

The Gala dinner is a fundraiser for the party with patrons dishing out huge amounts of money to secure tables at the event.

A seemingly agitated and defensive ANC treasurer-general Paul Mashatile told the media just minutes after the incident that there was nothing to be embarrassed about.

Mashatile is the party's fundraiser and would have been responsible for organising the event.

“How do I get embarrassed by the problem of the venue of other people?” Mashatile said in response to a question. “What must I do? We hired a venue, electricity trips. Why is it a fault of the ANC leadership?” he continued.

This is just one of a few incidents that have seemingly embarrassed Ramaphosa, with others seen as security threats.

On Thursday, Ramaphosa had to be whisked away from the stage by state security minister Zizi Kodwa at an event organised by the Women's League where he was expected to deliver a speech.

Earlier on Friday scores of ANC Youth League members tried storming an event he was scheduled to address aimed commemorating the life of Peter Mokaba.

Mashatile flatly refused to draw links to the incidents that have happened around the president in the build up to the January 8 statement.

“There are not many issues, the electricity has tripped, why is the ANC leadership blamed for that? I don't understand. What must we do? We don't fix electricity, it's not the government because it's not load-shedding. Electricity has tripped in the venue now the leadership of the ANC must be embarrassed, for what?” he said.

Mashatile maintained that the power had seemingly tripped in what they call a glitch for now until, he said, they had an explanation.

“We think it was a technical glitch, all we know is that it was not load-shedding. It's a problem in the venue and not in the hotel as a whole but in this hall itself because when we went outside the lights were there so we do think it's a technical glitch but I'm sure management will check and explain to us but they have since fixed it,” Mashatile said.

He explained that the president and his deputy's security protocols do not allow  them to be in a dark room so they had to be taken away quickly.


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