Polokwane – A power blackout at the ANC’S gala dinner has shocked President Cyril Ramaphosa.
The power outage occurred at about 9pm while Ramaphosa was addressing guests at a gala dinner meant to raise funds as part of the ANC’s 110th year anniversary celebrations.
Organisers, party officials, ministers and business leaders who had paid hundreds of thousands of Rands to dine with ANC leaders at the Protea Ranch Hotel were left embarrassed as the lights went out while Ramaphosa was on the podium.
Ramaphosa’s presidential bodyguards, who were quietly sitting among the diners, sprung up and surrounded him at the podium when the lights went out.
The president was allowed to finish his speech with the help of light beams from TV news broadcasters. He later joked about the need to fix the country’s power issues.
Immediately after he left the podium, he went back to his seat. But his security team, apparently as a security measure, escorted him out of the venue.
On the other hand, guests tried to save the day, breaking into song after the power outage but soon ran out of steam after Ramaphosa left the hall for security reasons.
It is not immediately clear what prompted the outage.
Asked by the media after whether the blackout was due to loadshedding, ANC Treasurer-General Paul Mashatile said it could be a fault. “It’s not load shedding, there is no load shedding,” Mashatile said.
And while most officials were not sure as to what could have caused the outage, a youth league member who refused to be named, for fear of being victimised, claimed it was sabotage because of the earlier events where Ramaphosa was addressing the youth league.
He said: “We knew that some people were against us and did not want us to succeed. The presidents’ second term is threatening them. They did this on purpose.”
The source was referring to the Radical Economic Transformation Forces (RETF) that seem to be sympathetic to former president Jacob Zuma.
The party has been gripped with factional battles in recent years with many saying the infighting would bring an end to the ruling party.
Earlier in the day on Friday, during the festivities, Ramaphosa had spoken against the current ANC Youth league during a Peter Mokaba memorial lecture.
On Thursday Ramaphosa walked out of the party’s Women’s league event after assertions there was no compliance to Covid-19 regulations.