The newly-elected African National Congress leadership received a warm welcome in East London during the party’s 106 birthday celebrations.

ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa and the rest of the top six received a rousing welcome from crowds that filled the Absa Stadium, and the Jan Smuts Stadium used as the overflow area.

East London was painted in black, green and yellow as masses from all over the country assembled to celebrate the party’s 106 birthday. The number is estimated to be over 100 000 people, who attended the celebrations.

The attendees say their confidence in the ANC has been restored.

This is what some had to say: “It’s not everyday you get visits from people like the president. So, I’m so excited. For me, it is the very first time seeing him and it’s a very huge thing and I honestly respect him.”

ANC National Chairperson Gwede Mantashe says the party is much closer to the people now more than ever.

“We are expecting to continue servicing our people as they expect us to always talk to them, engage them and be part of them. It’s about being rooted among them that makes ANC different.”

Eastern Cape Provincial Chairperson Oscar Mabuyane says the support they have received gives them confidence that they will reclaim the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro in the next local government elections.

“People are responding positively. ANC is a serious brand on its own. That positive message of unity has been going in well to our people. We are quite happy and we are moving forward and we are quite sure that we are getting back Nelson Mandela. That’s our next project. We are going to go there and we are going to win it back come 2019 and 2021. In 2019, we are going to improve. We are very sure.”

Businesses have been the major beneficiaries in the ANC’s invasion of the city.

All hotels and BnB’s were fully booked for the weekend.

One of the caterers, Nomvuyo George, says she has greatly benefited from the celebrations.

“Small businesses are benefiting. We are very busy. As I’m talking to you now, there are many people who are waiting for me who want to buy. So, what I’m trying to say, it has brought us a great opportunity as small businesses. All of us are busy. No one is fighting with customers because there are too many customers. We just thank the ANC for bringing this event here. We hope that they will bring it again”.

People who attended say they are hopeful that party leadership will deal decisively with corruption and embark on an organisational renewal, like they promised.