The final day of the African National Congress (ANC) elective conference in Bloemfontein was full of drama and conspiracy theories.
As expected, officials who dared go against party leader and the country’s president, JacobZuma, were purged from the National Executive Committee, for example, Matthew Phosa and Tokyo Sexwale.
What is the plan of action for the two officials? Will they stay in the party and try and work with Zuma, or will they leave?
The juiciest conspiracy theory, so far, is the fate of Kgalema Mothlante, who is still the deputy president of South Africa, but not the ruling party.
Some people speculate he will resign from the government early next year. Others think he will stay on until his term ends in 2014.
All I know is the ANC will be an interesting political party to watch in the next few months. Will Zuma be able to unite a seemingly divided party or will infighting and factionalism make 2013 a turbulent year for Africa’s oldest liberation movement?
Conspiracy theories went into overdrive for about half an hour on the last day of the conference.
Zuma was about to make his closing speech when the lights went off. It happens in Africa and we expected the power to be restored fairly quickly.
But not this time. As people waited for someone to switch the lights back on, my colleagues predicted the worst. It was quite hilarious.
Theories went from “the anti-Zuma camp wants to sabotage the conference” to “someone has kidnapped our president”.
Anyway, the lights eventually came back on and Zuma was safe and sound.
In his speech, Zuma made more promises to South Africans – a better life for all and so forth. Then he left in his motorcade, all flashing blue lights and big expensive-looking cars.
That was the end of the week-long conference in which delegates alleged intimidation and vote rigging and threatened to protest. Four right-wing Afrikaaner groups appeared in court for allegedly planning to bomb one of the tents, and then the lights went off right before Zuma’s closing speech.
I covered the ZANU PF conference in Zimbabwe the week before and I have to be honest, the ANC knows how to spice things up better than their Zimbabwean counterparts.
Everything seemed more dramatic here in Bloemfontein. The security checks were impressive, an experience I won’t forget in a hurry.
We had to go to a military base, get out of the car, and go through scanners to check we weren’t carrying weapons.
Sniffer dogs trained to find explosives rummaged through the car. The car bonnet was opened and thoroughly checked. Only then were we allowed to head to the conference venue.
Even then we couldn’t drive alone. We were escorted to the venue just on the chance that we might have stopped and picked up a terrorist or two.
The conference had its lighter moments, not to mention the long, boring hours of speeches.
I think 2013 will be an interesting year for the party. We know there is disunity and Zuma is trying to downplay that fact.
As I bought a few ANC souvenirs to sell one day on eBay when money is tight, I wondered how long the rainbow nation’s ruling party can hold it together?
It’s come a long way in a 100 years. I wonder what’s in store for the future.