JOHANNESBURG – Despite the pouring rain, African National Congress supporters had already filled the 40,000 capacity Orlando Stadium in Soweto, Johannesburg, for the ANC’s 105th anniversary bash soon after 10am on Sunday.
Many supporters were still outside the stadium hoping to get in. Some of those inside were trying to get underneath the roofed areas to escape the rain, despite it already being full to capacity. Some were expressing anger at being turned away.
Hundreds of people began streaming into the stadium in Soweto early on Sunday morning. Roads around the stadium have been closed to traffic except people attending the rally, and various law-enforcement agencies were doing stop-and-search operations.
Buses and taxis from as far away as KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State dropped off masses of people. Soon after arriving at the stadium, most supporters went straight to the sheltered areas of the stadium to avoid the continuous pouring rain.
According to the South African Weather Service, Johannesburg was experiencing light rain showers on Sunday with temperatures reaching a maximum of 14 degrees Celsius.
Head of the ANC’s organising committee Fikile Mbalula took to the stage at 7.30am to greet the crowd and encourage them to be cheerful while introducing some of the performers who would entertain them.
Many ANC national executive committee members, including treasurer general Zweli Mkhize, Bathabile Dlamini, Lindiwe Zulu, Malusi Gigaba, and secretary general Gwede Mantashe were already at the stadium by 8am.
The party has been garnering support for its birthday bash for the past week, doing door-to-door and walkabout campaigns, as well as holding mini-rallies in Gauteng to urge its supporters to come out in numbers and fill up the 40,000 seater stadium for the annual bash.
President Jacob Zuma is scheduled to deliver the January 8 statement around 11am.
– African News Agency