Alex Japho Matlala
3 minute read
5 Jan 2022
4:09 pm

R1.2 million seat next to Cyril no ticket to tender riches, just wisdom, says ANC

Alex Japho Matlala

Diners can expect to walk away from the dinner with President Cyril Ramaphosa as "better South Africans".

President Cyril Ramaphosa and Deputy President David Mabuza. Picture: Gallo Images/Alaister Russell/The Sunday Times

The controversial R1.2 million price tag to share a table with President Cyril Ramaphosa at the ANC’s gala dinner in Polokwane isn’t a fast track to amass lucrative government tenders, but merely an opportunity to get advice from the president, expand your mind, or become a better South African.

This was the explanation offered by Limpopo ANC provincial spokesperson Donald Selamolela, while clearing the air after a sizeable number of successful businessmen and women allegedly scrambled to buy the R1.2 million ticket to sit beside the president, with the hope of striking it rich in government tenders. 

Also Read: No free dinner at ANC’s R1.2 million-per-plate soirée

The ANC will hold a prestigious gala dinner in Polokwane on Friday night, which will culminate in the main event, the January 8 statement, the following day on Saturday. 

The gala dinner is, according to the party, aimed at raising funds to bankroll some of the vital day-to-day functions of the party. Recently, the party struggled to pay its employees’ salaries due to cashflow problems.

The dinner will be held at the Protea Hotel in Polokwane on Friday night and it will be hosted by the Progressive Business Forum (PBF).

According to information released shortly before Christmas, only six seats were left at the Ramaphosa table. It is unclear whether these had been booked since then.  

The Citizen has learned that sharing a table with Deputy President David Mabuza would cost attendees R1 million, while sitting with treasurer general, Paul Mashatile, and national chairperson, Gwede Mantashe, would cost R95,000.

To sit with a minister or premier, one will be expected part ways with R37,500. Sitting next to a deputy minister or an MEC could cost you R25,000, while the cheap seats for the ordinary plebs cost R5,000. 

“It must be clear, this is not an opportunity for business people to get tenders. It is only a fundraising programme of the ANC to raise funds for the organisation. It is not a chance to amass tenders from government,” Selamolela insisted. 

Also Read: How Treasury is hoping to end tender fraud

“People who are buying seats at the gala dinner will have the opportunity to speak business-related matters with these comrades. They will also have an opportunity to ask relevant questions that would help them become better business people and better South Africans with clear minds. 

“Say, for example, you are sitting next to Limpopo MEC for health, Phophi Ramathuba. It will be wise to talk to her about health-related matters which can help you to become a better person in the future. You can also ask her about Covid-19 or the variant Omicron, for example.

“This can help you prepare your future and that of your family or community in case the deadly virus resurfaces in a different form later in the year. I repeat, this is an ANC programme to raise funds, and not an opportunity for people to get business or tenders from government,” emphasised Selamolela

The Citizen understands the ANC provincial headquarters, Frans Mohlala, at Biccard Street in Polokwane was inundated with calls since the festive season from interested businesspeople.

According to ANC insiders in the province, some even offered to pay more than the ticket price for the chance to to sit with Ramaphosa, Mabuza, Mantashe and Mashatile.

The callers were allegedly from all the country’s nine provinces, with the majority from Limpopo and Gauteng.