Businesses vie for ANC attention

A well as some looking to provide some sort of input on policy decisions.

There were more than 120 com­panies in 70 stalls at the University of the Free State that paid between R25 000 to R500 000 for a place. It drew many businesses, ranging from small and medium enterprises to multinationals. Minions Zack’s Business Enterprises, which specialises in the manufacture of school furniture, and “relaxation specialists” Therapy On The Go competed for space with behemoths MultiChoice and Deloitte and Touche. Highlights among the stalls were British American Tobacco’s 200m2 luxury furnished smoking lounge next to the media centre and Vodacom’s smoothie and cappuccino stall.

“It would be incorrect to say these companies are linked to the ANC — they are merely involved in an interactive engagement platform created by the ruling party,” said Renier Schoeman, co-convenor of the forum. Schoeman, a former National Party stalwart and deputy minister who has since found a home in the ANC, said companies invited to participate were offered a unique opportunity to engage with state policymakers. “This is where primary economic policy in South Africa is formed and it is a chance for all here to have access to the people who construct it,” he said.

Reasons for attending the Man­gaung conference differed for those gathered at the marquee.

“If you’re in business and don’t know the people in government, you’re doomed to fail,” said Tebogo Nkosi, managing director of Boffin & Fundi.

The company assists with matters such as municipal billing and auditing, data cleansing and field surveys. “This interaction is important because we can plan and clarify our engagements with government.”

But business and deal-making were not the only activities in the marquee, where ANC clothing, memorabilia and mementos were up for sale.

R900 could buy a two-tone pair of ANC-branded leather shoes and a peaked cap, made in China and with a clenched fist emblazoned on the front, cost R120.

“We know people love the ANC. We are just making it easier for them to show it,” said Ntokozo Chamane of Brand ANC, one of the exhibitors.

For Johannes Moller, president of the agricultural body Agri SA, the reasons couldn’t be more different. “All we want is some say in the policy decisions that get made here. It’s important for the government to experience us as a partner and not in opposition to them.”

Asked how successful Agri SA’s attendance had been, his response  was measured. “It has been okay.”

Government ministers and business heavyweights put in a show at the marquee and President Jacob Zuma staged a 45-minute walk­about on Thursday. But most ruling party and business bigwigs making their way through the area to the VIP lounge at the back of the marquee gave the proceedings little more than a cursory glance.

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

Infrastructure key to economic recovery — Ramaphosa

The governing party wants localisation at the centre of its infrastructure-led strategy

Politicians must be held accountable

Endless, toothless internal integrity committees are not the way out of corruption

SA must fix its ‘dop system’

The Covid-19 lockdown has exposed the effects of South Africa’s weak alcohol regulations. Government and health campaigners want tougher policies, but the liquor giants are pushing back

Dancing on the grave of Covid?

Lay low for now as lockdown lifts to level one and let’s Jerusalema when the long arm of the law reaches Luthuli House

More North West mayors face recall

The ANC is wielding its axe to clear out ineffective councillors and those facing criminal charges

Subscribers only

Toxic power struggle hits public works

With infighting and allegations of corruption and poor planning, the department’s top management looks like a scene from ‘Survivor’

Free State branches gun for Ace

Parts of the provincial ANC will target their former premier, Magashule, and the Free State PEC in a rolling mass action campaign

More top stories

Q&A Sessions: ‘My north star is the patient’

Rhulani Nhlaniki is Pfizer’s cluster lead for sub-Saharan Africa. As Pfizer starts phase III of the clinical trial of their Covid-19 vaccine candidate, he tells Malaikah Bophela that if it is successful, the company will ensure the vaccine will be available to everyone who needs it

Ghost fishing gear an ‘immortal menace’ in oceans

Lost and illegal tackle is threatening marine life and the lives of people making a living from the sea

In terms of future-telling failures, this is a Major One

Bushiri knows how to pull a crowd. Ace knows a ponzi scheme. Paddy Harper predicts that a new prophet may profit at Luthuli House

Facebook, Instagram indiscriminately flag #EndSars posts as fake news

Fact-checking is appropriate but the platforms’ scattershot approach has resulted in genuine information and messages about Nigerians’ protest against police brutality being silenced

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday