President Jacob Zuma. Photo: Bongiwe Mchunu
President Jacob Zuma was expected to visit Thaba Nchu in the Free State on Thursday morning as part of the ANC’s centenary programme.
Two police vehicles and a Nyala police vehicle arrived at the local taxi rank at 9.30am ahead of the president’s scheduled arrival at 10pm. Paramedics were on standby. A few police officers milled around, buying snacks from hawkers.
There were rumours Zuma had cancelled the visit, but ANC officials could not immediately confirm this. He was expected to do a walkabout at the taxi rank and surrounds, before going to Botshabelo.
Many national ANC leaders were already in the province, going on door-to-door visits to encourage local party members to attend festivities for the party’s centenary. ANC national executive committee members would visit all the regions in the Free State until Saturday. The main celebration would start on Friday.
On Saturday, there would be intercultural events at the Mangaung outdoor sports grounds and a music show featuring well-known South African DJs and artists.
Zuma would conclude the three-day event with his annual January 8 speech, in which he would pay tribute to struggle heroes and former presidents of the movement.
More than 100 000 people were expected to attend festivities in the province, where the South African Native National Congress was founded on January 8, 1912. It was renamed the African National Congress in 1923.
The party said all were welcome and no accreditation was needed. The army had been deployed to ensure security, particularly because of the 46 foreign heads of state who had confirmed their attendance. They included Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, Nigeria’s Goodluck Jonathan and Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni.
It was still unclear if Former President Nelson Mandela would attend. – Sapa
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Zuma to visit Thaba Nchu