R500 000 For JZ’s Ear

by Sep 21, 2010All Articles

By Dominic Mahlangu, Noipone Malefane and Chandre Prince

Business leaders shell out millions to sit with top brass prior to ANC meeting

Mining magnate Patrice Motsepe outbid everyone to secure a seat at President Jacob Zuma’s table at last night’s gala dinner ahead of the ANC’s national general council.

The dinner, at the International Convention Centre in Durban, saw ANC heavyweights ranging from Cabinet ministers to premiers and directors-general share tables with business executives.

The Times understands guests had to fork out R500 000 to secure a seat at the president’s table, but this was no problem for Motsepe and his top executives at African Rainbow Minerals.

Tables with other members of the Cabinet cost more than R100 000, but there was no shortage of takers among the scores of “captains of industry and commerce” at the fundraising function. The Guptas — the wealthy business family with close links to Zuma — sat with former minister in the presidency Essop Pahad and businessman Sandile Zungu.

Zuma used the occasion to urge business to continue funding the ANC, saying the party was pivotal to economic stability and democracy in the country.

“There is therefore nothing wrong with the business sector investing in any party,” he said. ‘‘However, wise business sense tells you that investing in the ANC, which is supported by more than 65% of the population, is good value for your money!”

Zuma said that as much as business would invest in building infrastructure or human resource development, investing in democracy was also healthy as it provided a stable environment in which to do business.

Zuma highlighted the importance of the national general council — the ANC’s five-day policy review meeting — ahead of the party’s
centenary celebrations in 2012, saying the party had to ensure it was “strong, united and focused on achieving its mission of uniting the people of this country and to create a better life for all”.

ANC members from around the country have gathered in Durban, with Zuma under pressure to speed up services to the poor and knives sharpening for youth league president Julius Malema.

The ANC and its alliance partners, Cosatu and the SACP, have asked delegates to focus on policy issues and not leadership squabbles.

But according to a Sunday Times report, the party’s provincial chairmen have had to step in to save Zuma from a humiliating challenge to his leadership.

The move reportedly came after Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi blasted the ANC leadership for having “no backbone ” in dealing with Malema.

“All we want them to do is to have a backbone and implement the Polokwane resolutions. When are we going to do away with labour brokers? This paralysis which is caused by young kids must come to an end,” Vavi said at a Cosatu rally in East London on Saturday.

Analyst Thabo Rapoo of the Centre for Policy Studies said the NGC could be a “window ” into what would transpire at the ANC’s elective congress in 2012.

“We have seen President Zuma’s support waning in the past months,” Rapoo said. “This NGC could very well give a window into what is to come in 2012.” During a strike by 1.3 million Cosatu-affiliated publicservice workers in August, Zuma received a string of insults about his three wives, his new fiancée and an illegitimate child he fathered earlier this year.

He has also been under attack by Malema, who at a rally in the Free State last week, urged his members not to follow the example of leaders who took more than one wife. Malema’s comments followed his suggestion that Zuma’s family was amassing wealth, while the poor majority continued to suffer. His comments apparently angered senior ANC members, with the party’s top structures desperate to throw him out. Rapoo said ambitious ANC members, such as Malema, would use the NGC as a lobbying ground to garner support and test policies ahead of 2012. “It will be a testing ground, an opportunity midway from the 2007 conference in Polokwane, for the party’s ambitious future leaders to test their support among the ANC’s key constituencies and to start the party’s next leadership contest,” he said.

For business, the key topic at the NGC will be the call by Cosatu and the youth league to nationalise mines. Cosatu has said the government has been too soft on the mining sector, which has failed to reach transformation targets set out in a 2004 charter. The charter requires companies to sell 15% of their South African assets to black investors by the end of 2009, and 26% by 2014, but so far only 8.9% of mining assets are black-owned. Cosatu has said it will push for a range of other left-leaning economic policies at the NGC, including creating a state-owned bank to cater for the poor, nationalising vital sectors, a more progressive tax system, and abolishing inflation targeting.

Economists have warned that the government does not have the capacity to run a new state-owned entity to oversee nationalised sectors, and that dropping inflation targeting will push inflation higher.

The mining sector pays R32-billion in direct taxes and a large portion of indirect taxes, accounting for 17.3% of total company tax.

The industry directly contributes 31%, or R218.8-billion, in exports. — Additional reporting by Sapa

Source: http://www.timeslive.co.za/

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