041210 President Jacob Zuma singing with Solly Moholo during the 25th Cosatu anniversary at Johannesburg Stadium. Picture: Ziphozonke Lushaba003

Johannesburg - Eskom footed a bill of more than R1 million for President Jacob Zuma’s visit to Ingula power station last month - costs that covered air-conditioned marquees, décor, catering for more than 450 guests and entertainment.

The parastatal, which has applied for 16 percent increases in the price consumers pay for electricity every year for five years, has defended the expense.

It said Zuma’s visit was “meant to communicate a message” to investors that South Africa was “still open for business” and building its capacity to generate electricity to support economic growth.

The Ingula project is scheduled to come on line in 2014 at an expected cost of R23 billion and is part of a massive building programme that will cost an estimated R340bn over the next eight years.

Zuma was accompanied by a delegation that included Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba, Energy Minister Dipuo Peters, KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize and his Free State counterpart, Ace Magashule.

Deputy ministers, mayors, councillors and Eskom staff and board members including chairman Zola Tsotsi also attended.

Details of the bill are contained in a written reply to a parliamentary question put to Gigaba by Alf Lees, DA member of the National Council of Provinces for KwaZulu-Natal.

Lees wanted to know details of the visit, the services provided, their cost and who had picked up the tab.

Gigaba said that “according to Eskom” the event cost a total of R1 334 769.63. This included event management by Grounded Media, catering by Destiny Cuisine, marquees, flooring, staging and air-conditioning provided by Khabzo Projects and décor for the main marquee, stakeholder and presidential holding rooms supplied by the company Showroom.

Chairs, tables and other furniture were provided by Unlimited Events Décor while sound, audio-visual and lighting was from TCH Bonisa (Pty) Ltd.

Entertainment in the form of poetry came from NT Khumalo and traditional dancers were provided by WM Khumalo and VR Mkhize of Abafana Benkokhelo.

Gigaba said more than 450 people had attended the event, which included a tour of the main underground works of the pump storage power station.

It was “meant to communicate a message to both foreign and domestic investors alike that we are still open for business and that South Africa is currently providing new electricity generation capacity to cater for the country’s growth trajectory”, Gigaba said.

Political Bureau