145 President Zuma during a walkabout at Gallgher Estate during the ANC policy conference in Midrand. 280612. Picture: Bongiwe Mchunu

Shanti Aboobaker

A RELAXED-looking President Jacob Zuma joked with business people during a meet-and-greet session at the Progressive Business Forum exhibition at the ANC policy conference in Midrand yesterday.

The forum is a significant contributor to the party’s fundraising efforts.

Annual membership fees run into tens of thousands of rand, but benefits include being guests on international trade delegations during government visits, as well as access to influential politicians at gala dinners, breakfasts and meetings.

The role of the forum was questioned during an ANC national working committee meeting in March last year, where it was decided that the party should review its relationship with business.

Companies that coughed up money to secure an exhibition stand at this week’s conference included Patrice Motsepe’s African Rainbow Minerals, Nedbank, Absa, liquor company Brandhouse, the Protea Hotel group, Emirates airline, AgriSA, and construction, engineering and mining company Basil Read.

Accompanied by ANC treasurer-general Mathews Phosa and forum convener Renier Schoeman, Zuma said he was “not stressed”. He was presented with a set of commemorative coins by a gold coin company for his contribution to SA.

Business people confirmed they had received many offers of future business from delegates attending the conference.

Garth Williams, from Sisonke publishing, said the company had struck several deals with municipalities in the Eastern, Northern and Western Cape.

Schoeman said the forum was “satisfied” with its events, which included a colloquium of Brics companies.

Tickets to attend the Brics colloquium reportedly cost between R1 000 and R6 000 to attend the day’s event, while tables for the forum’s gala dinner cost up to R500 000.