Hawkers profit from CR17

By: Thobile Hans

Cyril Ramaphosa didn’t only win the elections for the ANC presidency, but his CR17 #Siyavuma branding, proved to be the trump card for hawkers outside the Nasrec Expo Centre.

Beaming hawkers turned a portion of the Rand Show Road into a bustling market venue painted in ANC colours – black, green and gold. For the five days of the 54th ANC conference the mood was festive, with the visiting ANC delegates dining under the shade of gazebos and umbrellas, feasting on hot pap, meat and salads on paper plates. In the mix of these festivities political songs blared from huge speakers.

“We are ready… We are ready for Ramaphosa!”

Mina ngizomtshela uCyril we love him so much…”

These were some of the songs that competed with the cacophony of the revellers some 300 kilometres where ANC delegates converged.

On Wednesday, the last day of the conference, hawkers hustled and pushed hard to make sure they sold their merchandise. And the delegates took full advantage of the half priced goods.

Customers kept a 21- year-old Mbalenhle Brown, busy at the entrance to the Expo Centre. Mbalenhle was helping her 46-year-old mother in her stall; their best selling items were the ANC umbrella hats. They arrived on Friday but there was no business for them.

“Because people were starting to arrive, we had no sales on that day. Saturday wasn’t so bad, but we had to reduce the price from R150 to R100 because customers complained,” says Mbalenhle.

For Mbalenhle, choosing ANC merchandise was not only based on profits, but on the 105 year organisation’s own principle of democracy.

“If a customer buys more than five boxes which each has thirty units of umbrella hats, I give the customer one box for free… You can see I also have car mirror caps with Zuma’s face and others with South African flag. Zuma is still part of the ANC regardless that Ramaphosa is the new president,” says Mbalenhle.

By the fifth day Mbalenhle and her mother made over R30 000. Their day started just before 7am and they closed shop at 10pm.

Next to Mbalenhle’s stall, Joyce Nkosi proudly showed her colours – ANC doeks with Ramaphosa’s smiling face are draping over her head and shoulders. Nkosi is pleased with her sales but things could have been worse after police tried to remove them on Saturday.

“(Herman) Mashaba sent cops with trucks to remove us. We had to fight to be here, but fortunately ANC officials negotiated for us,” she says.

According to police, hawkers like Nkosi and Mbalenhle were not authorised to operate business in the public space. A provision was made for hawkers to operate from inside at the fee of R2000 for the duration of the conference.

Nkosi, who only sold Ramaphosa branded merchandise, says each day she made between R1 500 to R2 000, but the last day was really slow. She is a member of a group that supported the newly-elected ANC president’s campaign.

Yolanda Sibanda and her partner Patient Alfino were making a killing from their A4 size calendars. A calendar with your picture taken on the spot sold for R20. Alfino who is a subscriber to the MyANC Facebook page said they had been busy since their arrival on Monday. They go to every ANC event in the country.

Vuyo Moyo was selling CDs of political music, books and documentaries of African freedom fighters.

“People love the OR Tambo documentary because it’s the year of OR who was for unity in the ANC.”

Moyo says he made about R5 000 a day but his business partners who were inside Nasrec Expo Centre, did even better. Their company, Sollywood South Africa based in Midrand, produces documentaries and CD’s.

“We had two stands inside. The guys there made double the amount because they were closer to important people. Ramaphosa and his entourage went there to support the hawkers,” he says.

Local businesses and residents found their own way to be part of the conference frenzy as over 5 000 ANC delegates elected leaders and discussed policies.

School going boys from the neighbourhood of Ormonde View took advantage of the situation. They turned themselves into car guards and parking marshals along the lawns of Nasrec and Rand Show roads. They charged motorists R100 for parking.

After a long day of policy discussions and voting, the delegates went for sundowners at a temporary arranged liquor outlet at the corner of Rand Show Road.

The owner Fezile Nondonga says he saw an opportunity to offer entertainment to the visitors. Since Saturday the outlet served about 200 patrons from 6pm to midnight. Although he would not disclose his profit, Nondonga was too pleased with his investment.

By the end of the conference all the hawkers were happy with the profit that will keep them going until Ramaphosa’s next address on the 08th January in the Eastern Cape.

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