GAYE DAVIS, DEON DE LANGE, SHANTI ABOOBAKER AND BABALO NDENZE
PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma has invited big business to be a part of “the evolution” of policy to be debated at the ANC’s policy conference in Midrand this week.
Fierce battles are expected as over 3 500 delegates thrash out positions on the economy, the land question and the state of the ANC, including the autonomy of its youth league.
Speaking at the ANC’s Progressive Business Forum banquet last night, Zuma told guests they would “know the thinking of the ANC when this conference comes to an end”, but said they “must intervene when necessary for the good of the country”.
“We are a part of you, you are a part of us, and that’s why we believe when we say participate, participate, participate in the evolution of the politics that must guide us,” Zuma said.
Business in general and the mining sector in particular will be watching the conference closely for potential shifts in economic policy.
Debate on economic transformation is expected to spark the most heat with calls for the wholesale nationalisation of mines, banks and other key sectors up against more nuanced ideas involving greater state intervention and new mining taxes.
African Rainbow Minerals chairman Patrice Motsepe is understood to have once again stepped up to the plate to pay R500 000 for the elite titanium package at the banquet, organised by the forum. This included seats at Zuma’s table.
Other tables, hosted by cabinet ministers, sold for R250 000 (the platinum package), those by deputy ministers (the gold package) cost R100 000 while the silver package bought a table hosted by an MEC.
Zuma kept his guests waiting for more than an hour before they were finally able to tuck into a starter of avocado, cream cheese and biltong, followed by beef fillet and vegetables and a trio of chocolate desserts.
Guests included Absa group CEO Maria Ramos, attending with her husband, National Planning Minister Trevor Manuel, while celebrities such as Arthur Mafokate and Don Mlangeni-Nawa (Zeb from Isidingo) were seen rubbing shoulders with “minister of gigs”, Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula, who warmly welcomed ANC Youth League deputy secretary general Kenetswe Mosenogi.
Mining companies and the big four banks were well represented.
Guests dug even deeper into their pockets when a framed collage, that included a drawing of Nelson Mandela and bore the signatures of the ANC’s top six officials, was sold for R500 000, and a bottle of pinotage, among a range destined for sale in the Brics group of emerging economies, went for about R40 000.
The dinner, Zuma told his guests, was a time to “eat nicely together” before getting to the important business of policy today.
He told them the ANC was “a wonderful organisation” and that he wondered what it would feel like not to be part of an organisation where “there is a continuous space for debate, for discussion”.
“I think it is an organisation that thinks hard about the future of this country, that worries about (it), that invites people to discuss the future of the country… In no way am I saying join the ANC, become a card-carrying member – you can be a supporter, even if it is just about doing the right thing at the right time,” Zuma said.
After Zuma’s opening address today the conference will go into a closed session. ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe will speak on the discussion document on the state of the party and its renewal.
Senior national executive committee member in charge of political education, Tony Yengeni, will speak about the strategy and tactics document, which deals with the notion of a second transition.
Former Economic Development deputy minister Enoch Godongwana will present the document on state intervention in mining.
National Planning Minister Trevor Manuel will discuss the National Development Plan and ANC policy chief Jeff Radebe will spell out the commission guidelines.