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RET leader calls President Cyril Ramaphosa’s R1.2 million dinner “a recipe for state capture”; analyst says price tag raises eyebrows

President Cyril Ramaphosa is accused of promoting state capture by asking businesses to pay R1.2 million to sit next to him at an ANC gala dinner next week. File Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)

President Cyril Ramaphosa is accused of promoting state capture by asking businesses to pay R1.2 million to sit next to him at an ANC gala dinner next week. File Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Dec 31, 2021

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DURBAN - RADICAL Economic Transformation group leader Nkosentsha Shezi has described President Cyril Ramaphosa’s charging of R1.2 million to dine alongside him at a gala dinner, as “a recipe for state capture”.

The gala dinner, to be hosted by the Progressive Business Forum, is set to be held at the Protea Hotel in Polokwane next Friday as a precursor to the party’s annual January 8 celebrations on Saturday.

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Shezi questioned the motive behind charging that amount and described the move as a clear pre-selling of government tenders, adding the ANC was supposed to further explain the purpose of this rather than merely say it was for networking.

The exclusive dinner was expected to also be used as a fund-raiser to fill the party’s empty coffers – the party has been experiencing serious cash flow problems.

Shezi said the CR17 campaign accounts had never been unsealed, adding that business people who bought seats at the dinner were likely to score lucrative government tenders as payback for their funding of the ANC.

“This is a daylight call for businesses to capture the state. There is no businessman who would cough up R1.2m for nothing. Businesses are for investment so if they pay so much, of course they are expecting returns for their investment and the only way the ANC would pay them back would be to give them government tenders,” Shezi said.

Shezi’s sentiments on business owners paying R1.2m were echoed by political analyst Dr Ralph Mathekga, who described the situation as another form of the state capture, which Ramaphosa was claiming to fight against.

“This is unethical to do ... which should not be allowed in a corrupt country like South Africa. It must be asked what these businesses stand to gain out of this if not tenders from the government.This is pre-buying of government business.”

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Another political analyst, Professor Bheki Mngomezulu, said although fund-raising was a common practice across the world, this particular scenario caused eyebrows to be raised because of the price tag.

He said there was nothing wrong with it but that problems would develop when the businesses who paid the amount then won government tenders, as people would say they “were being paid back”.

“It is a difficult situation. The ANC has been having financial problems for quite some time now. You cannot blame people who will question the motive of selling tables for so much. There is a possibility that those who will buy these packages are the ones who benefited through government tenders, and now it was their payback time, or it would be those who still want to benefit with the hope tender panels would remember them when awarding businesses.

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“I think the tender board should always make sure everything is done correctly to avoid the perception that these companies were buying tenders for funding the ruling party,” Mngomezulu said.

Other views were that Ramaphosa might use the opportunity to ask the businesses at the gala dinner to fund his CR22 campaign.

Those looking to attend the gala dinner will have eight packages to choose from.

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The titanium package buys guests a seat at Ramaphosa’s table; there are four seats available for guests at this table.

This while the “platinum package” seats at Deputy President David Mabuza’s table will cost guests R1m. This is also for guests who will be seated at tables with ANC chairperson Gwede Mantashe, treasurer-general Paul Mashatile and deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte.

Guests can also sit alongside a minister or premier at a cost of R37 500 while other seats are available to the public for R95 000.

Attempts to obtain comment from the party’s national spokesperson, Pule Mabe, were unsuccessful.

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