Malema seen, but not heard, in Mangaung
Embattled ANC Youth League president Julius Malema might not have addressed the ANC's centenary celebrations yesterday, but his presence was felt throughout the proceedings.
The packed 48000-capacity Free State stadium burst into loud cheers when Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula, who directed the event's programme, announced Malema's presence.
The youth leader - in a white Cuban shirt, dark sunglasses and his trademark beret - was cheered every time his face was beamed on the giant screen above the main stage, where he was seated with the rest of the ANC's national executive committee.
But it was definitely President Jacob Zuma's show. His entrance was met with loud cheers and spontaneous singing of his trademark song, Umshini wami.
Former president Thabo Mbeki seems to have found his way back into the hearts of the ANC supporters as the mention of his name drew loud cheers which almost rivalled those for Zuma and Malema.
Zuma spent 90 minutes delivering his centenary address, which was concentrated on the ruling party's and South Africa's history from the era of colonialism to apartheid.
There was mixed reaction from the crowd when secretary-general Gwede Mantashe emerged from the VIP holding room to take his seat on the stage.
The event, which took place in scorching Bloemfontein heat, was incident free, despite attempts by a group of ANC supporters from Limpopo to disrupt proceedings.
The group's singing of Uphi uJuju, asiphelelanga (where is Malema, we are incomplete without him) was drowned out by the music from giant speakers around the stadium. Their boos, directed at Zuma and Mantashe, were insignificant compared to the loud applause received by the two leaders.
Malema's youth league wants Zuma and Mantashe removed from their party positions of president and secretary-general respectively at the ANC's elective conference in December this year.
The Limpopo group's unruly behaviour prompted ANC national chairman Baleka Mbete to call on the ANC security to "do your job".
"Comrades, it's not impossible for you to be thrown out," she warned.
Mbete then continued with her task and the Limpopo group eventually backed down.
Mbeki played a small role during the event, which was addressed only by Zuma, when he joined Rivonia trialists Ahmed Kathrada and Andrew Mlangeni in handing over the ANC centenary flame to Zuma and his deputy, Kgalema Motlanthe.
Event organisers also provided overflow areas at three nearby smaller stadiums to accommodate those who could not get into the main venue.
The ANC claimed that it attracted 100000 supporters to its centenary celebrations.
A number of local musicians including Professor, Trompies, Big Nuz and Winnie Khumalo, kept the crowds entertained.
A colourful fireworks display that was scheduled to end festivities was put in doubt by rain.