Grub ga­lore at City Hall

Mu­nic­i­pal­ity de­part­ments dish out R240,000 for catered food in just 36 days

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - Front Page - Siyam­tanda Capa ca­[email protected]­soblack­ com­ment on this week­[email protected]­soblack­

In just 36 days, the Nel­son Man­dela Bay mu­nic­i­pal­ity racked up a bill of a quar­ter of a mil­lion rands on cater­ing.

Var­i­ous de­part­ments spent a col­lec­tive R244,059.45 on cater­ing be­tween Au­gust 29 and Oc­to­ber 4.

That is more than half of what the city spent on cater­ing for the en­tire pre­vi­ous fi­nan­cial year, which amounted to R401,968.

De­tails of the city’s bal­loon­ing cater­ing bill were re­vealed in a writ­ten re­sponse to ques­tions asked by DA coun­cil­lor Retief Oden­daal which are con­tained in the coun­cil agenda of De­cem­ber 4.

Oden­daal asked how much had been spent on cater­ing since the new coali­tion gov­ern­ment took over on Au­gust 28.

He also asked for a list of the ser­vice providers used and the amounts paid to each firm.

There has been a marked in­crease in the fre­quency of food served at com­mit­tee meet­ings, par­tic­u­larly may­oral meet­ings.

These largely com­prise platters of finger snacks.

In the first week of Septem­ber, the sports, recre­ation, arts and cul­ture depart­ment spent R62,000 on cater­ing, while the big­gest bill for the pe­riod went to the city man­ager’s of­fice at a cost of R18,810 over two days.

The re­sponse from the city shows that be­tween Au­gust 29 and Oc­to­ber 4, the depart­ment of sports and recre­ation was the big­gest spender, with R97,309 spent on cater­ing.

The other de­part­ments spent as fol­lows:

● Hu­man re­sources and cor­po­rate ser­vices – R52,152;

● The city man­ager’s of­fice – R22,560;

● In­fra­struc­ture and en­gi­neer­ing – R16,350; and

● The speaker’s of­fice – R5,620. Be­fore the new gov­ern­ment took over, the mu­nic­i­pal­ity spent R34,010 on cater­ing in July and R25,647 in Au­gust.

The mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s to­tal bud­get for cater­ing for the cur­rent 2018-2019 fi­nan­cial year is R12.4m while its bud­get for the last fi­nan­cial year was R20m.

The ques­tion of whether or not to pro­vide cater­ing at coun­cil and com­mit­tee meet­ings was the sub­ject of heated de­bate in the coun­cil in 2014.

There was a call, at the time, from the Trea­sury for all gov­ern­ment de­part­ments to tighten their belts and cut down on their travel, ac­com­mo­da­tion and cater­ing bud­gets.

Oden­daal said he had de­cided to ask about the cater­ing bud­get when he no­ticed food be­ing served al­most daily.

“We have seen food at City Hall and we were hor­ri­fied.

“There was cater­ing on a daily ba­sis and we were con­cerned with how much is be­ing spent on cater­ing.

“If you look at what is be­ing spent in just over a month, it’s a quar­ter of a mil­lion rands. That is just ridicu­lous.

“This is all on non-ser­vice de­liv­ery items, it’s cater­ing for politi­cians and of­fi­cials. It’s un­ac­cept­able and it shouldn’t be al­lowed.” He said that there was a cater­ing bud­get but not for all de­part­ments.

May­oral com­mit­tee mem­ber in charge of sports and recre­ation Lehlo­honolo Mfana re­ferred all ques­tions to the bud­get and trea­sury depart­ment.

Mayor Mongameli Bobani said the R22,560 spent on food by his of­fice was “nor­mal and within bud­get”.

“You must re­mem­ber that my of­fice hosts the premier’s of­fice and rugby teams even, but even then we are still within bud­get.

“We also hosted a del­e­ga­tion from Gothen­burg and Jack­sonville. In fact, I can say that I have min­imised this. If you look at my pre­de­ces­sors, they used a lot of money.

“The cater­ing that I have pro­vided is a light lunch and it is within the law and within the bud­get.”

“I didn’t buy liquor and we didn’t party with tax­pay­ers’ money,” Bobani said.

Asked if he had any con­cerns about the rate of spend­ing on cater­ing, Bobani said: “It de­pends on the oc­ca­sions. The DA served food at ev­ery coun­cil meet­ing.

“They dished out food even though there were no vis­i­tors.

“We are in fact in this mess be­cause of the DA; we are rec­ti­fy­ing their mess,” Bobani said.

If you look at what is be­ing spent in just over a month, it’s a quar­ter of a mil­lion rand. That is just ridicu­lous Retief Oden­daal DA COUN­CIL­LOR

Bobani then de­nied that food was served at a may­oral com­mit­tee meet­ing.

“I am telling you now, there is no cater­ing in mayco. We have had more than eight may­oral com­mit­tee meet­ings and there has been no cater­ing.

“It is only when we have vis­i­tors, only then will I pro­vide cater­ing and that is within the cost-con­tain­ment mea­sures,” he said.

Mu­nic­i­pal spokesper­son Mthubanzi Mniki said there was a pos­si­bil­ity that the costs had been in­flated af­ter the city hosted the Spring­boks when they were in the Bay.

“It must be noted that monthly spend­ing varies, de­pend­ing on the mag­ni­tude, num­ber of peo­ple and the rea­son for such cater­ing.

“In the to­tal fig­ure, there is an ad­di­tional R85,000 that was spent to host the Spring­boks when they were in Nel­son Man­dela Bay for a Test match.

“That cost alone might have pushed the amount up.

“How­ever, the mu­nic­i­pal­ity feels that the amount was worth spend­ing,” Mniki said.

He added that any spend­ing on cater­ing was within the na­tional Trea­sury’s cost-con­tain­ment mea­sures.

“It is un­der­stood that the busi­ness of the mu­nic­i­pal­ity is to ren­der ser­vices that are paid for by ratepay­ers un­der dif­fi­cult fi­nan­cial con­di­tions.

“Ev­ery de­ci­sion taken in re­la­tion to cater­ing is based on the men­tioned con­sid­er­a­tions,” Mniki said.

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