President Jacob Zuma’s speech at the ANC’s manifesto launch in Port Elizabeth was delayed by more than an hour as the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium refused to fill up with the anticipated 110 000 supporters.
Following lengthy musical performances, prayers by religious leaders as well as brief messages of support by ANC alliance partners – who all vowed to support the party in the upcoming elections – ANC chairperson got up to announce that 42 000 people have already been registered as having entered the 46000-seater stadium.
There were no messages of support from the ANC Youth League or the ANC Women’s League.
From above, however, the stadium looked only about a third to three-quarters full, which meant there were only about 30 000 to 35000 people in the seats.
Mbete said 10 more buses had arrived from KwaZulu-Natal while more taxis were going to townships to ferry supporters to attend proceedings.
It is was hot day in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro and many people were constantly moving into the shady seats in the stadium.
It is unclear why the party was so slow to mobilise people from some surrounding townships, but Mail & Guardian was informed that in some cases the buses were not paid for, while in others people who were feeling aggrieved with the ANC refused to come.
Meanwhile, Professor kept the crowds entertained while Zuma and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa danced. They sat next to each other and occasionally shared jokes.
A praise singer gave a rousing welcome to Zuma as the crowds were whipped into a frenzy and he started his speech with shouts of “amandla” and “all power, to the people”.