Hundreds make their way to Royal Bafokeng ahead of ANC celebration

The event to mark the party’s 104th birthday, is expected to draw 120,000 people to the venue.

Thousands of people continue to make their way to the Royal Bafokeng stadium ahead of ANC birthday celebration on 9 January 2016. Picture: Thando Kubheka/EWN.

RUSTENBURG - Thousands of African National Congress (ANC) supporters are making their way to the Royal Bafokeng Stadium, where President Jacob Zuma will set out the party's political agenda for the year, when he delivers the January 8 statement in Rustenburg on Saturday.

The event to mark the party's 104th birthday, is expected to draw 120,000 people to the North West mining town.

ANC national spokesperson, Zizi Kodwa, said the programme has been shortened because of the prevailing heatwave.

"And the stadium itself is open stadium and our concern is the people, first foremost, that's why if you look at the agenda, we've shortened the agenda because the main speaker of the day must be the president and when he speaks, people must still be there at the stadium"

A total of 34 striking mineworkers were gunned down by police during a tense standoff at a Lonmin mine in August 2012.

Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba said the party enjoys strong support in Rustenburg.

"We're quite confident that when the election campaign starts, we'll reactivate our structures and the volunteers of the ANC will be agitated enough and we're going to reclaim and defend our leadership of this municipality."


Zuma, said this year's local government elections will be the toughest the party has ever faced.

He was speaking at a ceremony to mark the ANC's 104th birthday in Rustenburg in the North West province on Friday.

It was one of several programmes that took place this week in the build up to Saturday's event.

Zuma said in order to succeed, the ANC must listen to people's views and should not force them to accept certain leaders.

"We can't force down their throats our comrades that we love as our friends. We've got to consider their views."

He has called on members to defend the ANC, adding the youth must be at the forefront.

"At times, if some of us as individuals do the wrong things people who hate the ANC try to take those individuals' shortcomings to be the shortcomings of the ANC; no the ANC remains the ANC."


Zuma said the ANC will be going to communities to hear what they want the party to do to improve local government.

"And I'd want representatives of our branches to listen to something on this aspect very attentively but they want the leadership of the ANC to listen even more."

The country's metros will become battlegrounds for political parties in the run up to the elections.

The Democratic Alliance and the Economic Freedom Fighters have vowed to take the Johannesburg, Tshwane, and Nelson Mandela Bay metros from the ANC.

ANC heavyweights have spent the past week mobilising support for the main event, but the party has also been forced to deal with internal issues.

North West Premier, Supra Mahumapelo said the birthday celebration in Rustenburg on Friday is evidence that the party is welcome in the mining town.

Mahumapelo was speaking at an ANC Rally in Wonderkop.

"We must develop the mining areas, develop communities that are residing around the mining areas. So Klerksdorp, Orkney, all other areas including Marikana, Rustenburg, Madibeng, we're working on them."