Pricy Mangaung room with a view

2012-12-18 08:25

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While some delegates splash R35 000 a day to get comfortable in Mangaung, others stay in student lodging - and some have been forced to sleep on buses or even the city’s streets. Cathy Dlodlo and Tshimo Leeuw investigate.

While some delegates splash out R35 000 a day to get comfortable in Mangaung, others stay in student lodging.

Some have been forced to sleep on buses or even on the city’s streets.

At the end of a long day of politicking, delegates and guests with deep pockets are escaping Bloemfontein’s suddenly crammed, noisy city centre for the luxurious silence of the leafy suburbs.

And houses in posh neighbourhoods like the Woodlands Wildlife Estate and Universitas are cashing in.

One double-storey house on the Woodlands estate is being rented out for the duration of the conference at a cost of R35 000 per day.

One rental agent told Mangaung24 that delegates with money to spare preferred to stay outside the city, although this didn’t mean they were any less festive.

Such large, well equipped pads are, after all, excellent for parties.

The agent, who asked to remain anonymous, said her clients had “a list of requirements” including air conditioning, good security systems and a swimming pool.

The sizeable rentals include the houses themselves and cleaning services, but everything else is billed separately.

The agent explained: “(We are) stocking the fridge with bottled water, ice and energy drinks, and snacks are being ordered. We provide that and then claim separately.”

All rent had to be paid upfront.

For the guests and delegates on top of the political heap, the Free State government guesthouse on the grounds of Free State House – Premier Ace Magashule’s official residence – would be a popular choice.

The guesthouse was upgraded last December as part of a multimillion-rand renovation ahead of the ANC’s centenary celebrations, which were held in January.

City Press managed to get pictures of the palatial guesthouse’s interior, which show just how comfortably some high-profile delegates are living during the conference.

Some delegates and guests still hadn’t managed to secure accommodation by late yesterday.

Guesthouse owners said they were being bombarded with requests.

One owner said: “People are phoning non-stop to ask for available accommodation, saying the quotes they received were way too high.”

A delegate complained that he got a quote from a travel agent for accommodation at R4?000 a night, excluding breakfast.

Across town, nearly 2 500 delegates are staying on the University of the Free State’s campus.

The university was tight-lipped on details of the cost.

In a brief statement, it said: “Several of our residences have also been rented to accommodate 2 377 delegates from four provinces (KwaZulu-Natal, North West, Limpopo and Mpumalanga).”

Hostel rooms at the university are small, neat and simple: most contain just a single bed, a table, a chair and cupboards.

Some residences are occupied by both men and women, while others are single sex. Bathrooms are shared between approximately eight people in a corridor.

Basic it may be, but a good night’s sleep in a student room is far better than the situation that awaited some delegates when they arrived in Mangaung late on Saturday.

Wire service NewsFire reported on Sunday that scores of delegates slept on the city’s streets or the buses that had brought them to Bloemfontein.

NewsFire saw delegates from Gauteng, Limpopo, Western Cape, Northern Cape and North West without accommodation on Saturday night and counted more than 20 buses of delegates camping on the street.

Many blamed politics for their plight, saying their decision not to back President Jacob Zuma for re-election was behind their rough sleeping circumstances.

Three North West delegates said they were there to support Zuma and did not blame their situation on any power play.

– Additonal reporting by Greg Nicolson/NewsFire

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