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ANC issues overshadow Mandela centennial celebrations

The focus on celebrations to mark what would have been Madibas 100th year has shifted to watching how Cyril Ramaphosa deals with his first, and most delicate political conundrum.

Former President Nelson Mandela with President Jacob Zuma celebrate Madiba's 91st birthday at Mandela's home in Houghton Johannesburg. Picture: Debbie Yazbek/Nelson Mandela Foundation

CAPE TOWN - The African National Congress' (ANC) fancy political footwork is overshadowing Nelson Mandela centennial celebrations.

The protracted talks that followed the postponement of the State of the Nation Address have seen ANC bigwigs withdrawing from a series of events without notice on Friday.

The programme formed part of the lead up to the main event, a rally on the Grand Parade on Sunday.

Cyril Ramaphosa has promised to restore a bruised ANC to the halcyon days of Nelson Mandela.

But the focus on celebrations to mark what would have been Madibas 100th year has shifted to watching how he deals with his first and most delicate political conundrum.

On Wednesday, he was holed up in Tuynhuys until the early evening, addressing the ANC’s parliamentary caucus on Thursday, before announcing that he’s pulling out of Friday’s centennial build up activities in Cape Town.

ANC spokesman Pule Mabe: “The programme on Sunday is proceeding as planned.”

If Ramaphosa does arrive on stage as planned, he’s likely to use the platform to set the tone for the fresh start many in the party are hoping for.

A MORNING OF NO-SHOWS

It was a case of all bets are off in Cape Town on Friday morning as the contingent of the ANC's top six were no-shows at a series of events to Mark Nelson Mandela's centenary.

All six were meant to fan out across the Cape Metropole, meeting commuters, holding meetings and doing door-to-door ward visits.

But Ramaphosa pulled out of the events earlier this week and this morning Paul Mashatile, Mabuza, Ace Magashule and Jessie Duarte simply failed to pitch.

It what was meant to be a 7 am start for Mashatile who was due to chat to commuters at the bustling Bellville taxi rank.

But, he never showed so it was just another day.

People carried about their usual business unaware that there was a planned visit by the ANC heavyweight.

Eyewitness News (EWN) followed the program to where Mabuza was meant to focus on transport issues in Khayelitsha.

Mabuza was scheduled to speak to the local transport industry but this role was instead deferred to other NEC members, who also failed to pitch.

Secretary-General Magashule was also expected in Phillipi.

Nobody knew what was going on, reporters got conflicting information from the ANC nationally and the Western Cape.

As supporters and journalists waited impatiently, there was little by way of explanation from national ANC structures.

When an official statement did come, it was four hours after the scheduled start of the program, saying the party leaders were elsewhere attending to other commitments.

Earlier this afternoon, one of the president's wives came out in defense of him.

Thobeka Madiba-Zuma has posted a picture of the couple on Instagram, saying Zuma will finish what he started because he does not take orders beyond the Atlantic Ocean.

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