Want a seat at Mabuza's table? It'll cost a cool R500k ...
... and if you want to sit with President Ramaphosa you'll have to be prepared to negotiate
Do you want access to deputy president, to share a meal with him and to chat about whatever you might fancy?
Well, be prepared to fork out R500,000.
Included in what the ANC is calling the “Platinum Package” for next year’s January 8 presidential gala dinner is a seat at the table of Deputy President David Mabuza. It’ll also get you a separate 10-seater table at which you can place eight guests you have nominated – and two “distinguished guests” will fill the other two seats.
The package costs a cool half-a-million rand.
But don’t balk at this figure just yet, because of the cost of sitting with President Cyril Ramaphosa hasn’t even been provided by the ruling party.
In its advert for the gala dinner, a dinner seat at the president’s table will come at an “individually negotiated” price.
If the cash-dropping under former president Jacob Zuma was anything to go by, then you’d better expect to be negotiating at the very top end of the spectrum.
According to a Sunday Times article in January 2017, those who wanted an intimate audience with the president had to cough up R2m for their three-member delegations.
The R2m “official partner sponsorship package” secured three seats at Zuma’s table, six seats at another table, golf balls for eight players at a golf day, and VIP accreditation for the ANC rally at Orlando Stadium, Soweto, which took place the following day.
To secure three seats at the table of Zuma’s deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa, the ANC charged R1.5m.
The presidential gala dinner is an annual event held on the eve of the ANC’s January 8 rally in celebration of the party’s birth. Next year’s event is of particular significance because it comes ahead of the national and provincial elections.
Various other sponsorship packages range from R50,000 to R250,000. A single seat at any available table will set you back R5,000.
The event will be held on January 11 at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre in Durban.
At the 2018 dinner, held in East London in the Eastern Cape, a table with Ramaphosa – who was the party’s president but had not yet ascended to the highest office in the land – and the other members of the ANC’s top 6 started at R250,000.
The Daily Dispatch reported in January 2018 that the package, similarly to the one being offered for the 2019 event, secured the buyer and eight guests the chance to sit with one of the top 6 “and another distinguished guest”.
Slightly cheaper packages were also available. The R200,000 gold bought a 10-seater table made up of eight nominated guests, “another distinguished guest” and either an ANC minister or provincial premier.
For R100,000, Daily Dispatch reported, eight nominated guests and the sponsor got to sit with a deputy minister or an MEC. A 10-seater table shared by eight guests and two “distinguished ANC guests” could be bought for R50,000.
But while the money got the buyer access to the who’s who of the ANC, the party was adamant that this was not a way to buy favours – even though bread would be broken with some of the country’s most influential politicians and administrators.
Speaking December 2017, former ANC treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize – who became minister of cooperative governance and traditional affairs in Ramaphosa’s cabinet – said he constantly reminded business leaders that donations to the party’s coffers were not in exchange of any material benefit.
Delivering his final report on the state of the governing party’s finances to the ANC ’s national conference in Johannesburg, Mkhize said that given the current political environment, he had to repeatedly tell ANC donors and businessmen that donations were not transactional and should not come with expectations of securing tenders with government departments or state entities.
“Donations to the ANC are purely voluntary and strictly non-transactional. Donations to the ANC are not done in exchange of direct material or future benefit,” his report said.
Mkhize disclosed that some of the donors had even demanded a change in the ANC ’s policy choices.
“Recent examples have demonstrated that donors have a possibility of dictating terms to some parties, creating distortions as those parties exercise their policy choices,” he was quoted as saying.
He said fundraising for the party had to be done in a way that preserved the integrity of the organisation.