No accreditation? No problem. There’s another world outside the Nasrec Expo Centre where a huge number of ANC branch members, local business people and residents have found their own way to be part of the frenzy.
The arrival of 4 776 delegates, who landed at Nasrec for the 54th ANC national conference on Saturday, has changed the face of Rand Show Road leaving it black, green and gold.
The young boys of Ormonde View, who would normally spend their days loitering on street corners, have turned to car guards for the fleet of cars, taxis and busses that have come from all over the country.
The high demand for parking has turned front lawns to prime real estate with parking spots going at R100 a pop which could be for a mere two minutes.
“We make over R1 000 a day,” said Sabelo Mzulwini.
Mzulwini said they aren’t the only ones benefiting.
Traffic marshalls ensure that the roads are not congested and residents are not inconvenienced.
The mood is festive as ANC struggle songs play in the background competing with the sounds of Anita Baker’s “You give me joy” from a recently opened chill-out-spot dubbed Nasrec Gate 5 Chillas at the corner of Albertos and Rand Show Road.
Owner Fezile Nondonga says he’s not open the whole year like other restaurants in the area.
One of his leaflets reads “Will be running for the duration of the ANC conference”.
“I saw an opportunity to offer entertainment to cadres and from yesterday morning we have been very busy, about 250 plus people have been coming in and they start coming after 6pm,” said Nondonga.
Nondonga would not disclose how much money he has spent on operations, but said he had “put a serious investment, you know high investment and we hoping to get a return on our investment”.
As it happens, the ANC conference coincides with his birthday and he has decided to share his special day with the comrades who will be visiting his spot.
Not far from Gate 5 Chillas, Phindile Nyandeni mans her sister’s stall that is piled high with ANC regalia and merchandise.
“I am selling from outside because my sister could only pay for two people and she is the third one in Nasrec. It cost R1 500 for my sister and two other ladies to be at the business expo”.
One can wear ANC-branded gear from head to toe for as little as R1 100. Unisex t-shirts are sold for R300, leather jackets and tracksuits will set a tenderpreneur back by R600 and the caps and hats are a cheap R100 or R150.
“I may give those who buy more than two items a discount, but we will see as the week goes” said Nyandeni.
Advocate Maile Nngake, an ANC delegate from Pretoria, has spent over R2 000 since Saturday on different collectables for himself and other comrades who want to remember the historical conference.
“This is one of the best if not the best of them all, and highly contested and highly businesslike and everyone is interested in the outcome,” said Nngake.
Describing the mood he said: “I think it’s quite phenomenal. We are seeing small businesses getting what is due to them and surely they will leave here having benefited greatly,” he said.
Local businesses like the Sasol petrol station also got themselves a slice of the sales pie.
Sasol manager, Lungile Gwala, said sales had doubled since the conference started. Although she could not disclose the amount of sales, she confirmed that sales were higher than usual.
Ice, cold drinks, water and energy drinks have topped sales.
“We were prepared for the conference. But we did run out of ice twice and we had to order around 6 times our normal stock on Saturday. The one machine we use to produce ice was not enough,” said Gwala.
The garage is not only a refuge for hungry, thirsty comrades, but eager branch members who have come to watch from the side-lines.
“We are ready for Nkosazana” is the background song for motorists filling up their cars at the garage which has become the camping spot for Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma supporters.
Gladys Nkosi, member of the Zone 4, Meadowland’s women’s league said she came to witness Dlamini-Zuma take her “God-given” position as the leader of the ANC.
“God chose her while she was still in her mother’s womb so that she can deliver the people of South Africa out of the poverty that they are in to the Promised Land,” said Nkosi.
Seemingly God had other plans as Cyril Ramaphosa snatched the position of ANC president.
Nkosi said they were determined to stay at the garage until the results are announced, “even if they came out at 3am, we are used to it”.
The American fast-food chain Burger King also made a killing and its Nasrec supervisor, Josephine Mogedile, told Mail & Guardian that sales figures doubled since Saturday.
“The double whopper with cheese costing R71,90 has been the most popular meal followed by the Big King XXXL.”
She says the bottomless cold drink at Burger King was a hit and so were desserts with delegates loving the Fusion Oreo.