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R50 000 - that’s what business tycoon Patrice Motsepe reportedly paid for a seat next to President Jacob Zuma at the gala dinner on the eve of the ANC’s Mangaung national conference.
The presidential table of 10 is understood to have netted a cool half a million rand for the ANC which, through the Progressive Business Forum (PBF), raises funds at such ANC gatherings and other events.
Motsepe is a regular guest at ANC functions, and has repeatedly clinched the presidential table - at the mining gala dinner in June, last year’s 99th birthday bash in Polokwane, and the party’s national general council in Durban in 2010. The cost has reportedly remained stable at R500 000.
Sharing a table with a cabinet member or a deputy minister is somewhat cheaper. The minimum price is R2 500 a plate for the gala dinner, which leads off with salmon, includes chicken and fillet, and ends with a chocolate dessert - all accompanied by De Wetshof chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon, with a muscadel to round it all off.
Fresh from hosting the VIP hospitality for Lady Gaga, Gavin Rajah Concepts has turned its attention to Mangaung, where it is the official events manager for the progressive business lounge.
The Cape Town fashion house’s boss Rajah said he was tired of going to badly catered and badly set up political events with bad decor.
Organisers of the forum declined to give details, except to say the dinner was the largest yet, with 900 guests - 300 more than last time – and 70 exhibitors in the progressive business lounge.
”We’ve effectively been sold out since the beginning of November,” said the forum’s co-organisers Renier Schoeman and Daryl Swanepoel.
Meanwhile, in the aftermath of the provincial general council here to nominate their preferred top six candidates to lead the party, supporters of Zuma and his deputy Kgalema Motlanthe revealed the darker side of the nomination process – with allegations of vote-buying surfacing in some parts of the province.
Senior ANC leaders publicly aligned to both Zuma’s second-term camp and the “forces of change” for Motlanthe to become president have denied such practices.
But delegates at the provincial general council (PGC) claimed ANC bigwigs, including Zuma, Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale and ANC treasurer-general Mathews Phosa had been instrumental in pumping millions into the Western Cape in the hope that the province would vote in their favour.
Ten voting delegates, some of them among the senior ranks, told Weekend Argus cold hard cash was indeed a factor in the nominations processes. Other than cash, opposing factions also offered promising jobs in return for votes.
Some of the revelations included that the Zuma camp splashed out on hired 4x4 vehicles for their “delegate head-hunters”, who dished out cash to those willing to defect, that Sexwale pumped cash into infrastructure, transport, accommodation and pro-change T-shirts, while Phosa allegedly hired a private jet to fly in delegates from the southern Cape region for the nomination conference.
ANC provincial chairman Marius Fransman rubbished the claims, denying that Zuma exchanged money for support.
Phosa said he knew nothing about the PGC or funding claims. Sexwale could not be reached for comment.