Buy a date with Blade
With politicians harping on about human capital, it should come as no surprise that the South African Communist Party (SACP) has put price tags on its most influential members as a fund-raising ploy to be held at the Braamfontein recreational centre on August 16.
The Reds are in the red and debtors such as the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University are beating at their door—they still haven’t paid it in full for hosting their congress—so they’re looking to lap up some surplus value.
They’re following the rule of the Swiss Army: if you have nothing to sell, pawn your people.
A cool R150 000 will buy you a seat at the same table as presidential hopeful Jacob Zuma. Pay top dollar or forfeit JZ’s profound policy insights.
But take a leaf from fraud convict Schabir Shaik’s charge sheet and steer clear of conversations with the African National Congress president about car washes, school fees and designer suits. Also, no mention of showering. His left-hand man, SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande, will be at the same table to purge any guest who gets out of line.
Initially scheduled for a venue in Soweto, the fancy fund-raising dinner has now been moved to the Braamfontein recreational centre in central Johannesburg.
“We were exploring Soweto for venue options but it would be a logistical disaster to have the dinner there,” said one of the organisers—presumably to spare the guests anxiety about the German sedans and 4x4s parked outside. The 14 tables up for grabs will each have two hosts, a local politician and a foreign guest, presumably to add global glitz to the evening, except that most are likely to be Scandiwegian lefties.
Although the organisers emphasise that the tables were priced to reach the fund-raising target of R950 000, the event is also a mini-poll of Cabinet ministers’ standing and prospects.
The front-runner is, unsurprisingly, Zuma, but if your budget doesn’t stretch to R150 000 you can test the investment climate with Finance Minister Trevor Manuel for a steal—at R100 000.
Junior ministers such as Lindiwe Sisulu (housing) and Jeff Radebe (transport) come much more cheaply at a mere R70 000.
It’s rumoured that Sisulu is in line to recover the intelligence portfolio in a Zuma Cabinet. An obvious omission is the absence of Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang. Are beetroot and African potato off the menu?
According to the SACP, an assessment of which politicians would generate interest among potential diners was made beforehand and was a factor in pricing the tables.
“There are people who have wanted to meet and talk to Jeff Radebe for two years and now they can network with him,” one organiser claimed.
Gauteng finance minister Paul Mashatile should feel miffed: he’s the cheapest date of all. At table 14 at the back of the room, he’s available only to the cheapskates with R50 000 to spare. But Mashatile, a big spender touted in some circles as the next premier of Gauteng, could prove a useful investment.
Significantly, the SACP won’t say who’s buying.