Many Cabinet ministers failed to make it to the highly-priced prime tables at First Lady Dr Amai Grace Mugabe’s 50th birthday dinner dance on Saturday even after parting with $2 000 to attend the event.
Some of the ministers reportedly did not attend the lavish party after failing to raise the minimum $2 000 to secure a seat at tables on the peripheries at a function that reportedly grossed in excess of $5 million.
Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa had to be invited to take a seat in the inner circle close to President Robert Mugabe and his wife where a table of 10 people was going for $100 000, translating to $10 000 for each guest.
“Friday was the last day for people to buy tables,” a government minister who refused to be named said.
“Some ministers (names supplied) failed to raise the minimum $2 000 to attend the event.
“There were no complimentary seats, everyone who attended paid. Most of the ministers sat on the periphery.”
Over 2 000 turned up for the party at the First Family’s Blue Roof mansion in Borrowdale Brooke, Harare.
Most of them were government ministers, businesspeople, celebrities, church leaders and Zanu PF supporters.
According to sources, about 10 tables valued at $100 000 each formed the inner circle, 10 tables each valued for $50 000 formed the second circle, while individuals paid $2 000 each to secure places at outer tables.
All the tables were full, according to sources, meaning the sale of tables grossed about $5,1 million, while more money was raised through the auctioning of books and other items.
Prophetic Healing and Deliverance Ministries founder Prophet Walter Magaya made the highest bid of $50 000 to buy a biography of Grace, while Brainworks Capital paid $20 000 for a second book on Grace’s history.
Sources told NewsDay that companies, particularly mining giants, stampeded to buy the inner tables.
“Some of the companies just bought tables and sent representatives for the sake of appearing in the register. Their names were not disclosed,” the source added.
Plenty of good food and wine was provided at the event what was graced by top musicians Oliver Mtukudzi and Sulumani Chimbetu.
However, the chairperson of the Grace birthday bash organising committee, Rodney Dangarembizi, said the dinner raised $3 million.
“The whole value is $3 million plus, that is in cash and kind,” Dangarembizi said.
“The money was handed over to her (Grace Mugabe) after the party. Our mandate was to raise funds and the responsibility of distributing is her responsibility.”
He said the bulk of the funds were from the sale of tables.