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Tue Dec 23 05:43:08 SAST 2014

Minister splurges R3.7 million on ANC art

SUTHENTIRA GOVENDER, BONGANI MTHETHWA, TASCHICA PILLAY and MATTHEW SAVIDES | 13 January, 2013 08:44
Sifiso Ngcobo said his painting of Mandela took about 20 days to complete. File photo.

Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu successfully bid R3.7-million for a portrait of former president Nelson Mandela at an auction during the ANC's 101st anniversary gala dinner.

The auction raised R21.4-million in Durban on Friday night.

President Jacob Zuma also told the gathering of South Africa's business and political elite that "supporting the ANC means you're investing very well in your business".

Shabangu's bid for the artwork, titled Charity Begins at Home, was the biggest of the night. Two people present said she made the bid on behalf of a local mining magnate.

Yesterday, Department of Mineral Resources spokesman Zingaphi Jakuja declined to comment, saying: "It's an ANC matter and has nothing to do with the department."

Shabangu outbid National Federated Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Nafcoc) president Joe Hlongwane for the portrait of Mandela wearing a black suit, white shirt and red tie against a background of six rondavels. The ANC offered to commission a similar portrait for Hlongwane in exchange for his R3.5-million bid.

Newly elected ANC treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize told the gathering that Hlongwane's bid was "too good a bid to allow to go to waste".

In his keynote address, Zuma said businessmen who supported the ANC would see their fortunes multiply.

"We're not forcing people ... you can support and be a supporter, but if you go beyond that and become a member, [and] if you're a businessman, your business will multiply. Everything you touch will multiply. I've always said that a wise businessperson will support the ANC ... because supporting the ANC means you're investing very well in your business."

Two portraits of the party's newly elected leaders - Zuma, ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize, chairperson Baleka Mbete, secretary-general Gwede Mantashe and deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte - fetched R1.4-million and R1.3-million.

The winning bid of R1.4-million came from a table of traditional leaders. Hlongwane, who is credited with forming Nafhold, Nafcoc's investment company, splashed out R1.3-million for the other painting.

Yesterday Hlongwane, who is at the centre of a Nafcoc leadership dispute, was accused by opponents in his organisation of buying the paintings to secure the ANC's support.

Nafcoc deputy president Steve Skhosana said : "I have investigated this ... [Hlongwane] pledged the money from his pocket to buy the ANC favour for when he contests the Nafcoc [presidency] in future."

Hlongwane, a pastor of the International Assemblies of God, could not be reached for comment.

Another portrait of Mandela, Zuma and ANC stalwart Oliver Tambo fetched R750000.

Two years ago Shabangu splurged R400000 on a biker jacket in ANC colours Zuma had worn during the 2009 elections. It fetched more than four times the R75000 paid for a signed, original copy of the Freedom Charter at the function.

At the time, Shabangu told Independent Newspapers: "I felt I had to do something for the ANC and I bought the jacket as a memento." She joked that she might be able to sell it later for an even higher price.

Artist Sifiso Ngcobo said his painting of Mandela took about 20 days to complete.

Seats and tables at the banquet cost between R5000 and R600000. Mining tycoon Patrice Motsepe, the country's richest man, forked out R600000 to reserve a table with Zuma, at which Shabangu was also seated.

Organisers said seats at the 70-table banquet sold out within 10 days, raking in R8.2-million.

Some of the business executives who paid more than R450000 for tables included IT billionaire Robert Gumede and Durban tycoon Vivian Reddy.

A seat at a table with Mkhize, Mbete, Mantashe and Duarte sold for R300000 and tables shared with two cabinet ministers each fetched R150000 .

Other corporate chief executives who snapped up tables included FirstRand's Sizwe Nxasana, Chamber of Mines's Bheki Sibiya and Transnet Freight Rail's Siyabonga Gama. Also among the guests were former Reserve Bank governor Tito Mboweni, 2010 World Cup chief executive Danny Jordaan and Safa president Kirsten Nematandani.

At a press conference earlier this week, Mantashe said proceeds from the dinner would be channelled "into the running of the business of the ANC and its campaigns".

"We are an active organisation, so that money will go to the ANC to do its work."

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