South Africa’s president son under fire for canceling blockchain conference without prior notice

Tumelo Ramaphosa, the youngest son of South Africa’s President, Cyril Ramaphosa is under fire as his company StudEx Wildlife Fund failed to host a technology conference that people had paid to attend, reports Timeslive on December 13.

The company, which prides itself in globalising farming auctions through the digitization of livestock, wild animals and endangered species by turning them into digital tokens, had advertised an event, billed as an AI and Blockchain in Retail Conference, for December 3 and 4.

Price of Tickets for the event ranged from R3,000 ($200USD) for general access for one day and access to thought leader sessions, to R7,500 ($500USD) for the VIP Access Package which included after-hours influencer sessions and access to keynote speakers.

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Tumelo Ramaphosa

There was also an optional extra payment of R50,000 ($3447) for the StudEx VIP experience which would grant VIP attendees access to all three days of the conference, a two-day Safari stay and conservation game drives. However, all of these plans amounted to nothing as people who had registered for the event, arrived at the venue to find out that it has been cancelled.

In addition, it was also alleged that the speaker’s list has since changed and that some of those who were removed claim to have never been confirmed to speak at the event in the first place

Speaking on the issue, Jade-Lee Herman who purchased two tickets for R3,000 ($200USD) said her boss and another person had shown up on December 3 only to be told by Summer Place, in Sandton that there wasn’t an event taking place there, an approach she did not find funny at all.

She expressed her displeasure at the turn of event, saying,

What makes us angry about this issue is that they never posted anything about the event being postponed on their website or on their Facebook page. They kept on advertising the event as if it’s still going on as planned even on the day that it was supposed to take place, even though they knew it was not taking place.”

Responding to the backlash, Ramaphosa calmly explained that he had to postpone the event due to unforeseen circumstances and one of which was that they had not sold enough tickets.

“My business associates and I took the decision to postpone the event when we experienced difficulties with the company that was hired to plan, market and co-ordinate the event,”

He has also said they were going to take legal action against the organizer, whom he refused to name, admitting they were trying to recoup money spent to organize the event. He claims they were unable to deliver on the agreed terms of engagement and alerted him to the situation, only a few days to the conference making the cancellation inevitable.

“The decision to postpone was not an easy one, however for purposes of hosting a quality conference we decided it was appropriate to fully investigate what went wrong with our former organisers,” he told the public.

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On concerns raised about the speakers, he stated, firmly, that the speakers were handpicked as leading experts in their respective fields.

The conference, which had been aimed to provide value to those in the retail space, by showing the applicability of Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence in that sector, has now been shifted to May 2020. He confirmed this on his Instagram page.

He assured everyone that the tickets already purchased are still valid for the postponed conference and this was confirmed on the conference website and Facebook social media page.

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