ANC AND DA AR­GUE OVER RATEPAY­ERS’ MONEY BE­ING SPENT ON MU­SIC FES­TI­VAL

Talk of the Town - - Front Page - ROB KNOWLES

The Nd­lambe festive sea­son mu­sic fes­ti­val, or­gan­ised by the de­part­ment of sport, re­cre­ation, arts and cul­ture (Ds­rac) will go ahead and the mu­nic­i­pal­ity will be con­tribut­ing R200,000 of ratepay­ers’ money to­wards the fes­ti­val de­spite the pro­posal be­ing op­posed by ratepay­ers.

In a let­ter to mayor Phindile Faxi be­fore the meet­ing, Nd­lambe Ratepay­ers’ Fo­rum (NRF) chair Chris Bezuiden­hout wrote that the or­gan­i­sa­tion was not in favour of the con­cert. After ex­plain­ing that ratepay­ers should not be ex­pected to fund the event, his let­ter con­cluded: “Con­sid­er­ing the lim­ited cap­i­tal bud­get, de­mands for road main­te­nance, waste man­age­ment, etc, the Nd­lambe Ratepay­ers’ Fo­rum strongly ob­jects to any funds be­ing made avail­able to sup­port the mu­sic fes­ti­val”.

In 2017, the coun­cil sup­ported the Ds­rac ini­tia­tive to hold a ta­lent search and a con­cert in the area.

At the time, Ds­rac com­mit­ted to hold­ing the event, and coun­cil gave the okay pro­vided it would not cost Nd­lambe any­thing. The coun­cil then re­voked an amount of R365,000 that had been bud­geted for the con­cert. Then, at the last coun­cil meet­ing of 2017, Ds­rac pleaded that the funds orig­i­nally been set aside be paid as the event had cost more than an­tic­i­pated and that these funds were now re­quired.

This re­quest split the coun­cil, with ANC mem­bers, hav­ing al­ready cau­cused, vot­ing to al­low the money to be do­nated to Ds­rac and DA mem­bers ve­he­mently con­test­ing any amount be paid.

For­mer Nd­lambe mayor Sipho Tan­dani, who at that time of 2017’s coun­cil de­ci­sion was an au­dit com­mit­tee mem­ber, raised a red flag in that, ac­cord­ing to the Au­di­tor-General’s rec­om­men­da­tions, the fes­ti­val was not sus­tain­able and would there­fore be re­garded as waste­ful and fruit­less ex­pen­di­ture.

How­ever, as the ma­jor­ity in coun­cil, the ANC won the day and the money was al­lo­cated.

This time around, Ds­rac had asked for R450,000 to en­able them to put on the one-evening con­cert. Again, it was clear that the ANC coun­cil mem­bers were de­ter­mined to help fund the event de­spite ward 10 coun­cil­lor Ray Schenk telling coun­cil that there was no sus­tain­able ben­e­fit aris­ing from the event and that Ds­rac had never fully ac­counted for the money they re­ceived from Nd­lambe Mu­nic­i­pal­ity in 2017.

“Ds­rac want this con­cert, so they should pay,” Schenk told the coun­cil, adding that rates in­come should be used to en­hance and im­prove ser­vice de­liv­ery, not on con­certs that had no dis­cernible ben­e­fits.

“There has to be some ben­e­fit, not just a jive.”

Ward 8 coun­cil­lor Them­bani Mazana said that an im­pres­sion that the con­cert would hap­pen again this year had al­ready been shared with res­i­dents and that they wanted the con­cert to pro­ceed.

He said the con­cert was a way of putting Nd­lambe on the map and it brought in rev­enue to the town.

Schenk con­ceded that, with the ANC in the ma­jor­ity at coun­cil, the mo­tion to pay Ds­rac would be granted, but asked that it should be a free con­cert as ratepay­ers could not be ex­pected to fund the con­cert and then pay to en­joy it. Mazana said that the money from ticket sales could be re­cov­ered and given to char­i­ties, but did not say what the char­i­ties were.

DA coun­cil­lor Khany­isa Daweti was against do­nat­ing any money to Ds­rac.

“We can­not give hun­dreds of thou­sands of rand to Ds­rac for a sin­gle night’s con­cert when that money could sup­port the youth of the area for the rest of their lives,” she said.

Ward 9 coun­cil­lor Stwiga Njibana said that the con­cert was for the youth and that there were spin-offs to hold­ing it. He then sug­gested that the amount to do­nate to Ds­rac should be de­creased to R200,000.

DA coun­cil­lor Skura Venene said ticket sales should be han­dled by Nd­lambe Lo­cal Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment (LED) but this raised the ques­tion as to whether the funds were a do­na­tion or if the mu­nic­i­pal­ity wanted to part­ner with Ds­rac.

“If we want to take ticket sales then we need to part­ner Ds­rac,” said mu­nic­i­pal man­ager Rolly Dumezweni.

“If we place con­di­tions on the money we give then we must be part­ners with Ds­rac.”

A vote was taken and a sum of R200,000 will be do­nated to Ds­rac for the event.

Rates in­come should be used to en­hance and im­prove ser­vice de­liv­ery, not on con­certs

Pic­ture: ROB KNOWLES

RAINY DAY: The Bathurst Art Fair was a two-day event over last week­end and drew vis­i­tors from all over the area. At­tend­ing The Work­shop gallery on Sun­day, just as the rain be­gan, were, from left, Gil­lian Rose, her fa­ther David Rose and Bron­wyn Al­lan

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