Johannesburg – A speech by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa was on Friday cut short when the governing ANC annual dinner was plunged into darkness, dealing a humiliating blow to the party’s birthday celebrations.
Power suddenly went out while Ramaphosa was addressing a gala dinner, traditionally held to raise funds for the African National Congress on the eve of the main celebratory event.
Ramaphosa hurriedly concluded his speech in the dark, and was whisked out of the venue, abandoning guests – business people and senior ANC officials, live television footage showed.
Surrounding buildings appeared unaffected by the outage. Power was restored to the hall minutes later and the dinner proceeded without the host.
The cause of the blackout at a hotel in the northern city of Limpopo, was not immediately established but Ramaphosa tried downplay the development, which local media suggested could have been a security risk.
“Don’t worry there is nothing dangerous,” Ramaphosa said winding up his speech in the dark. A minister rushed to the podium with a torch in hand.
“Nothing is going to happen,” said Ramaphosa. “I call upon all of us to work together to deal with challenges, including this type of challenge we have with our energy supply process,” he concluded, to an outburst of laughter from the guests.
Power went out as the politically fragile leader spoke of an “arduous” task to revamp the divided ANC.
“While we have encountered resistance from elements in our own organisation on the process of renewal and rebuilding, we will not deviate from the fundamental task of renewing and rebuilding our organisation. That is going to happen whether people like it or not,” he said.
He is due to address hundreds of party members on Saturday at annual celebrations to mark the birth of the ANC. This year the ANC turns 110 years
Ramaphosa came to power in 2018 after an internal struggle in the ANC resulted in predecessor Jacob Zuma being forced to resign on the back of corruption scandals.
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