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Last Updated: Monday, 19 February 2007, 11:46 GMT
ANC condemned for business fees
African National Congress
The ANC said the information was publicly available
South Africa's ruling ANC party has been strongly criticised for a scheme charging fees to business leaders to meet senior government officials.

One analyst said the ANC was selling the government's political capital.

The ANC is believed to have raised up to 10m rand ($1.4m) in a year from the Progressive Business Forum (PBF).

But the ANC said it was standard international practice for businesses to pay political parties for access to ministers and top civil servants.

The ANC has confirmed that the scheme, headed by ANC's national co-ordinator of corporate liaison Renier Schoeman, had 2,000 members.

Membership fees are reported to vary between 3,000 and 7,000 rand with big corporations being charged up to 60,000 rand ($8,500).

Among the benefits, PBF members are invited to functions addressed by senior ANC leaders and given the opportunity to talk to party leaders.

Institute for Democracy in South Africa spokesman, Richard Calland told the South African Sunday Times: "Selling access to power merely serves to allow already privileged people to buy influence in a way the great majority of South Africans cannot."

However, he said, the information provided to PBF members was public information and apart from ANC leaders who were elected members of the executive or legislature, no government officials were invited to address functions of the forum.

Information about the forum's activities was available on the ANC's website and journalists were invited to report on its events, he said.

ANC spokesman Smuts Ngonymama said: "The information provided to PBF members is public information."

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