An official of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) says over 40 African heads of state and government are scheduled to participate in the party’s centennial celebrations this weekend. A vigil will be held Friday ahead of the planned activities for the centenary celebrations.
Spokesman Jackson Mthembu said all past presidents and families of the ANC have been invited including anti-apartheid icon and former President Nelson Mandela.
“As we all know, Madiba [Mandela] is not a young man. If he is able to come because conditions allow him to be part of these celebrations, I can tell you all of us will be excited,” said Mthembu.
He said the ANC will celebrate its core principle of allowing people to choose their own destiny in a united, non-racial, non-sexist nation.
Mthembu said the revelries will be held in Mangaung, the official birthplace of the ruling ANC. He outlined some of the planned activities for the occasion.
“We will have the president [Jacob Zuma] making a centenary statement about what it is that we have achieved, and what were the pains of the past 100 years, what were the glories, and what it is that we are looking forward to in the next century,” continued Mthembu. “We will then have in the evening a story of the life of the ANC told in 100 minutes in song and dance.”
The musical performances, Mthembu said, will be characteristic of the party’s struggle during the apartheid regime. He said the celebrations will be a year-round throughout South Africa’s entire nine provinces.
“We will [also] be celebrating the life and times of people who founded the ANC, people who have been president of the ANC, faces of the ANC through its 100 years history. The whole of 2012, we will be celebrating the 100 years of the ANC,” said Mthembu.
The ANC ended white minority, apartheid rule in South Africa and inspired people around the world after Mandela was elected president. Mthembu underscored the importance of the ruling party during the struggle to end years of white minority rule in South Africa under the apartheid regime.
“We have been able to reach 100 years because of the leadership quality that we have had in the ANC,” continued Mthembu. “Members of the ANC, despite the serious onslaught against them and their families -- being in prison, in exile, maimed and killed -- remained loyal to this organization after over 80 years of struggle.”
Observers say the ANC’s popularity has eroded in recent years amid accusations of graft and failure to deliver basic services to South Africans. But Mthembu said the ruling party will continue implementing policies that he said will improve the lives of citizens.
“Our founding principles [are] that we must make sure that the economy of South Africa …is in the hands of all including black South Africans,” said Mthembu. “It is incumbent that the ANC fulfill its founding values to ensure that in the next 100 years, we make sure that the social needs that any community enjoys are also forwarded to all black people in this country.”