Leaders left high and dry at ANC bash
Jabulani Dlamini, Volksblad
Bloemfontein - Several African heads of state are apparently deeply upset after they were left without food and bedding at the accommodation provided to them for the ANC's centenary celebrations.
The heads of state allegedly had to buy their own bedding, food, pots, pans, glasses and bottled water because the ANC had ordered the owners of the houses it rented at Woodlands Hills Wildlife Estate to remove all their possessions. There was apparently only liquor provided.
The hotel group contracted to equip the houses, which had been rented for up to R50 000 per day, allegedly did not do its job properly.
Had to buy necessities
Security guards for President Yuweri Museveni from Uganda had to buy him some grilled chicken from Nando’s.
“Ugandan officials had to leave Woodlands to go and buy duvets, food and other necessities for the president as there was a bed without linen,” said Mampho Mmelaedi, who looked after the house Museveni was staying in.
At least 15 women who were hired as housekeepers, waitresses and cleaners in the estate, came forward to speak about their dissatisfaction over how foreign dignitaries were treated.
Presidents who were treated badly included Bingu wa Mutharika from Malawi, Obiang Mbasogo from Equatorial Guinea, Hifikepunye Pohamba from Namibia and Paul Kagame from Rwanda.
Valentine Rantsoareng, joint owner of the Rantsoareng hotel group, confirmed they were contracted for the job by the department of international relations.
He strongly denied allegations about the accommodation, adding that some of the heads of state had deviated from the menu and “rather asked for chicken”.
He said the staff members were hired by Design HR.
“I think people who make these allegations are somewhat dissatisfied because they haven’t been paid yet, but I have only now received the receipt for it,” he said.
The women had another version of events, however.
“Namibian officials went to buy food, pots, plates and glasses to cook for the president [Pohamba]. I could see he was angry and disappointed,” said Motladi Metsing.
Kenalemang Pula said the Nigerian delegation arrived on Sunday morning and had packed their bags by lunchtime.
President Thomas Boni of Benin apparently immediately “stormed out" of Woodlands Hills.
One of the women said: “They kept asking us if we worked for the ANC or for the South African government. Understandably, they kept shouting at us. We were embarrassed to be there.”
When reached for comment, Museveni’s press secretary Tamale Mirundi, who was not part of the delegation, was trying to confirm the claims. However, Mirundi emphasised that if the reports were true the Ugandans would not have complained, because they saw themselves as fellow Africans, not visitors needing special treatment.
No official complaints
Free State ANC spokesperson William Bulwane said the party had been alerted to the claims. "Although we have not yet received any official complaints from heads of state we are going to be following this up with the estate."
ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said he was unaware of any complaints, but said there had been “very, very serious problems" with accreditation for international dignitaries, spiritual leaders and the media.
President Jacob Zuma would apologise in person to heads of state and the department of international relations and co-operation would apologise to other international dignitaries, he said.
"We are not aware of any instances where heads of state had to go out of their way to secure linen or pots for private use. This was an event arranged by government and government made sure that all was in order.
"However, there were some instances where private houses who opened their doors to guests of the ANC did not adhere to the contract signed with the ANC. In these instances we dealt with these matters."
Everything would have come past me so I would have known if any complaints have been made.”
International relations spokesperson Clayson Monyela was also in the dark.
- Additional reporting by The Witness.