/ 20 May 2011

Champagne flows as Zuma kicks off ANC’s ruling party

President Jacob Zuma started off the ANC’s election victory celebrations by thanking supporters “for a job well done” — and having a dig at the party’s critics.

“Analysts had predicted that the ANC would not make it … we have proved that we are in charge … that we have better policies, programs to change your quality of life,” Zuma said to a cheering crowd in central Johannesburg.

“Thank you for a job well done,” he said.

Zuma said that these elections were more competitive than those before because even small parties were expecting to win wards.

“The ANC had proved that it is the only party that could change the lives of the people for better,” he said.

“This election has shown that the ANC, which is turning 100 next year, is the oldest but still going strong. We are the future of the country.”

He added that people had voted for an organisation they knew and trusted.

Around 2 000 people braved the cold in downtown Johannesburg for the ANC’s celebration party on Friday evening.

Zuma, as well as general-secretary Gwede Mantashe, treasurer-general Matthews Phosa, NEC members Fikile Mbalula and Nathi Mthethwa, and youth leader Julius Malema, joined in the celebrations.

Supporters sang and cheered while fireworks lit up the sky, and party leaders cracked open bottles of Moët & Chandon, spraying it into the crowd.

“It is so good the ANC had made it. It makes me so happy,” said one woman in the crowd.

Anna Moang said she had travelled from Rustenburg just to be part of the celebration.

“I need to be part of the celebration because we had worked so hard for this victory.”

After Zuma had spoken, thanking the alliance partners for their effort in ensuring an ANC victory at the poll, the crowd called for Malema to address them.

They chanted: “Juju, Juju.”

Before, Zuma had led them in singing his trademark song, Mshini Wami.

Hawkers on the pavement cashed in on the celebrations by selling clothing and other items with the party’s logo.

Supporters kept their energy levels up by indulging in proudly South African fare, a steady meal of chicken drumsticks and roasted mealies.

After 97.1% of the voting districts had been counted on Friday the party’s support stood at 61.9%, giving it 5 214 council seats nationally.

The ruling party had won just over 21 million votes with the DA getting seven million. — Sapa