South Africa

Policy Conference: No room at the inn for delegates who’ve left it too late

By Puseletso Nthate & Orateng Lepodise 30 June 2017

Nasrec will be a hive of activity over the next five days as the ANC’s 5th Policy Conference gets under way on Friday. But while thousands of delegates are expected to attend, entertainment establishments in nearby Soweto have not gone out of the way to attract delegates. That does not mean they will not do a roaring trade over the next few days. By PUSELETSO NTHATE and ORATENG LEPODISE.

Any ANC delegates still looking for a place to lay their heads after a heavy day of conferencing may find that there’s no room at the inn. Several hotels and bed and breakfasts close to Nasrec contacted by Daily Maverick on Thursday indicated they were fully booked, while others were awaiting last-minute confirmation of pre-bookings that had been made.

It’s to be expected, as over 4,000 delegates – from the most senior party member (President Jacob Zuma) to ordinary branch members – are expected to attend the ANC’s policy conference.

Locals can expect some traffic disruption, particularly in the vicinity of Nasrec and the FNB Stadium, especially when senior delegates and government ministers are arriving at or leaving the venue. Think blue-light brigades.

Security will be at a premium – several different units from the South African Police Service and traffic officers from the Johannesburg Metro Police department have been deployed.

The place has been thoroughly evaluated to make sure that everything is in place for the conference and the JMPD have been deployed around the Nasrec area,” said JMPD spokeswoman, Edna Mamonyane, adding that “with 2010 World Cup experience, we are familiar with the place. I can give an assurance that it will be tightly guarded”.

People must be aware that traffic will be “highly affected, so they should use other routes to avoid being delayed”, Mamonyane said.

The police, ever coy to give details of their security operations, simply said: “Everything is in place.”

If analysts’ insider view is to be believed, the conference is not so much about policy as the undertones of the leadership race as the party heads to its elective conference in December.

Perhaps popular local watering holes believe that these discussions will take up all the delegates’ time, leaving them no time to visit their establishments. As a result delegates should not expect any special entertainment when they head to some of the popular venues on Soweto’s Vilakazi Street. DM

Photo: Delegates sung inside the plenary hall as they waited for the day’s events to start. 16 December 2012, ANC 53rd Conference, Mangaung. Photo Greg Nicolson/Daily Maverick

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