ANC January 8 statement so far overshadowed by Eskom
As ANC supporters trickle into the Tafel-Lager Stadium in Kimberley in the Northern Cape on a hot Saturday morning, the lead-up to President Cyril Ramaphosa's third January 8 statement has so far been overshadowed by Eskom.
The ANC's annual January 8 statement is the first big political event of the year for the governing party and sets the policy line for the rest of the year.
The president is expected to deliver the address just after 11am.
While mobilisation of ANC supporters on the ground is always a critical part in the lead-up to event, it has been overshadowed by complaints about service delivery in the Northern Cape, as well as most prominently by comments made to the media by deputy president David Mabuza on Thursday, in which he said that Ramaphosa was misled about when Eskom would need to implement load-shedding again in January.
The presidency said Mabuza's comments had no malicious intent.
The president had given an undertaking in December that there would be no load-shedding up until January 13, but it was in reality implemented much earlier in January.
On Friday, the presidency first announced that Mabuza had resigned as chair of the state owned power utility, which has been described as the the single biggest risk to SA's ailing economy.
Ramaphosa on Friday evening during the ANC's annual gala dinner ahead of the event, addressed the recent developments at Eskom, saying the load-shedding had caused enormous concern to South Africans.
He said there was no "schism" between what Mabuza said and what the presidency had said.
The deputy president's comments have resulted in alliance partner Cosatu and some of its member unions such as the National Union of Mineworkers and the National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu) calling on Ramaphosa to axe public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan from his cabinet.
ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe emphasised that the statement was not a state of the nation address, but that it was a reflection of the work of the ANC, the commitments it had made in the previous year and things it believed must be done in the turn of the new decade. This included how it pursues good governance and restoring the integrity of public institutions.
Mabe said the statement would also address issues that are of concern to South Africans, which include the economy, land, the creation of employment as well as energy security.