Broad Support for ANC Manifesto at Gala Dinner

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BYLINE: SIBUSISO NGALWA

Businessmen, sportsmen, academics and traditional leaders came out to endorse the ANC's manifesto and pledge their support for the ruling party at a gala dinner addressed by party president Jacob Zuma in Johannesburg on Saturday night.

Speaker after speaker pinned their flags to the ANC's mast, promising to help the ruling party to a decisive victory in the pending elections.

The star of the night - besides Zuma - was respected Soweto businessman Richard Maponya. Walking with the aid of a stick and supported by Transport Minister Jeff Radebe, Maponya received a rousing welcome that rivalled that given to Zuma, who was accompanied by Deputy President and ANC national chairperson Baleka Mbete.

The ageing Maponya appealed to the guests packed into the Sandton Convention Centre to encourage everyone to vote for the ANC. "The 2009 election is as important as the 1994 elections. I want to appeal to you, even if you are sick and are in the hospital. You must please ask that the ambulance must take you to the next voting station," said Maponya, to rapturous applause. …