Mangaung gears up for ANC conference

Mangaung believes the ANC conference will help boost its image.

ANC branded cooling towers in Bloemfontein. Picture: Taurai Maduna/EWN

MANGAUNG - The Free State appears ready to host more than 20,000 people expected to attend the ANC's elective conference.

The ruling party's 53rd conference is set to kick off on 16 December.

Hotels, lodges and B&Bs are all booked to capacity and the city is eagerly awaiting the influx of delegates.

Mangaung Municipality's Candile Kedana urged visitors to also make use of alternative accommodation.

"We have activated the home stay programme, where the most of the people who will be arriving, will be encouraged to go and sleep in the townships."

But some residents believe very little will change as the result of the conference.

One resident said, "They only fixed that side of the road. Obviously they don't care about us."

The municipality hopes the gathering will give the city a major boost.

Meanwhile, others have warned that the conference could be chaotic following incidents of violence in various ANC branches.

It has been reported that fights broke out in several branch meetings in recent weeks as members seem to be divided on who to back in Mangaung.

The party is split on backing Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe or President Jacob Zuma for the top job.

In November, some members allegedly used guns to force an Ekurhuleni branch to vote for Zuma.

In Limpopo, Zuma supporters walked out of a meeting on Thursday morning claiming bogus delegates had been deployed to vote.

Last week, they cancelled their conference when a group wearing t-shirts with Zuma's face printed on them disrupted proceedings, forcing delegates to flee the venue.

However, ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe has vowed that the elective conference will be peaceful.