Sithole: ‘DA was aware of Essence Festival budget’
ETHEKWINI Municipality’s tourism head Phillip Sithole said Durban’s Essence Festival was developmental and not profit-driven, unlike other private events held in Durban. He said the DA was fully aware of the budget for the festival and when it was approved by council.
Sithole said some of the money covered programmes that had already been approved by council. These were placed under the Essence Festival, as they had similar themes. Some of these included business promotion to international audiences and inter-cultural activities promoting local artists and women empowerment.
He added that they had a contract with Time Inc, which was also approved by council and the contract covered various aspects, such as supply chain management – and the DA was aware of this.
Sithole said he suspected the DA raised this issue because the festival could end up being successful and be even bigger than the Cape Town Jazz Festival. He added that it should be noted that the festival was held in Durban for the first time last year, but still managed to attract more than 60 000 people and generated more than R80 million for the city’s economy.
“This was not to mention local artists who got exposure in New Orleans last year. Local businesses also benefited from the festival, as deals were made through exposure at the festival.
“This year we are also going to save costs, as the music shows that form part of the festival will not be held at Moses Mabhida Stadium but at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre,” he added.