Row over funding
THE Chris Hani District Municipality has spoken out about dissatisfaction over its support of tourism organisations, with spokesman Thobeka Mqamelo this week saying that such funding was discretionary.
David Fourie of the Tsolwana tourism organisation recently indicated that funding was owed to tourism bodies in the Chris Hani district while the the Tsolwana tourism organisation, based in Tarkastad, had been enquiring when R60000, borrowed by CHDM, would be refunded. He said in a June 8 meeting involving CHDM, the Tsolwana tourism organisation and other tourism bodies, the organisations were reprimanded for including the media in their attempts to recover funding from CHDM.
“A promise was however made to distribute R185 000 to each tourism organisation in the district within the week following the meeting, as well as the R60000 owed to Tsolwana Tourism. Sadly, this promise has not been delivered on, and tourism organisations in the district have not received any funding since February last year, making it very difficult for them to perform their function, let alone continue to exist.”
Fourie said tourism and agriculture were the main catalysts for job creation in Tsolwana according to the Corridor Development Plan and Value Chain Analysis and Integration Draft Report of May 2011 and the 2014-15 Chris Hani Integrated Development Plan.
Mqamelo said CHDM supported local tourism organisations throughout the district, but that it constituted a discretionary grant.
“All local municipalities and local tourism organisations are clearly informed that they need to plan and budget accordingly.
“Also that the district municipality will not support dysfunctional structures or those that do not conform to set standards or do not have any planned tourism programmes that they will undertake to promote tourism in their areas which is highly critical.”
She said the District Tourism Organisation (DTO), Intsika Yethu and Engcobo had been paid their allocations with Emalahleni, Inkwanca and Lukhanji not receiving their allocation as the latter structures did not have functional local tourism organisations and relevant programs meant to promote tourism. Mqamelo also confirmed that the district authority had requested the Tsolwana local tourism organisation to assist the DTO to cover a shortfall in the budget while the DTO awaited its 2014-15 financial year allocation. She said the transfer of the R60 000 had been withheld due to the “unsatisfactory manner in which Tsolwana Local Tourism Offices conducts its business” the transfer had been withheld until concerns were addressed.
Fourie questioned how a business loan could not be repaid and said how the body conducted its business was the organisation’s concern. “Since when do government entities interfere with how organisations are run? They are entitled to a year-plan and a financial audit, not to dictate how the organisation should operate and conduct its business.”
He said the tourism body had refused to allow CHDM to control Tsolwana Tourism’s funds, as the money was not meant for the district authority. “The role of local municipalities is to support tourism, not to run it.” While Tsolwana Municipality had complained to CHDM about the tourism body’s non-cooperation, CHDM was aware that the funds did not belong to Tsolwana Municipality.
If the problem persisted, the tourism body would be dissolved and its functions taken over by the Tarka Development Group.