We paid R12m for the ANC’s centenary

2012-03-31 15:25

The numbers released by government in answer to questions in Parliament fly in the face of assurances that the ANC would pay its own way for its centenary celebrations.

The ruling party headed for Bloemfontein in January, where it celebrated its 100 years of existence, and despite President Jacob Zuma telling Parliament no government money would be spent, it was revealed that more than R12 million was spent on housing, wining and dining heads of state.

At the time,Free State government spokesperson William Bulwane told Volksblad newspaper the countries that the leaders hailed from would pay the bill.

There was R220 000 spent on housing each delegation – which consisted of a maximum of three people – most of whom only stayed one night.

The residents of the homes cleared out the houses for the one or two nights and new furniture, complete with Persian rugs, was put in.

Although the ANC is keeping mum on costs, it is understood accommodation cost between R25 000 and R60 00 per house. Presidents and their sidekicks were put up in the plush Woodlands estate in Bloemfontein, the new playground for the Free State nouveau riche.

This excluded food, for which the department of international relations budgeted more than R1 million, according to the parliamentary answer.

But once the party was over, complaints started trickling in about how delegations had to buy their own Nando’s because the food allocations were insufficient.

Zuma invited every African president to the party in Bloemfontein, but only 29 of the 53 state presidents pitched.

The rest sent their deputies or former presidents, like Zambia’s Kenneth Kaunda. Zuma insisted the ANC would dip into its own pocket to pay for the party.

He said the infrastructure spending, which upgraded historical sites in the Free State, was justifiable.

Zuma said the work done by the ANC liberated “all of us, oppressor and oppressed” and if people wanted to utilise the country’s facilities “that are used by others for any other thing, is there anything wrong?”

He added that the use of government money would need to be questioned.

“If you said there was this officer who budgeted to celebrate the centenary from the fiscus of the country, then let us discuss that matter if that issue is there,” he told DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko in Parliament in November.

But already in November, Cabinet approved that “all costs incurred in providing the requisite support (to heads of state) be accommodated within existing budgets of the relevant departments”, says an answer to a parliamentary question asked by DA MP Kenneth Mubu.

But apart from the answers to parliamentary questions, everyone claimed to be unaware of the costs involved.

When ANC chairperson Baleka Mbete mentioned a figure of R100 million, she was lambasted both inside and outside Luthuli House.

The ANC doesn’t want to be seen as spending lavishly during a time of financial belt-tightening.

Questions sent to the department of international relations and the Presidency were unanswered by the time of going to the press.

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