The eThekwini Municipality looks set to plunge into a fresh spending scandal as it prepares to shell out R3.7 million for rap superstars TI’s and Nicki Minaj’s performances in Durban this month.
The proposal follows the uproar last week in the wake of reports that the municipality was sending a huge delegation on a luxurious ship for a three-day “cruise summit”. The matter of the concert funding was temporarily withdrawn by the municipality’s executive committee on Tuesday.
Exco has also withdrawn requests for R2.3 million for next month’s Durban Picnic Day and R450 000 for a five-member delegation to travel for a tourism dinner and breakfast in Australia, also in April.
The ANC-led exco withdrew the matter of the concerts, referring it to Wednesday’s economic development and planning committee meeting.
The Durban Tourism office, which reports to the committee, had written to exco requesting the funds.
According to the report penned by Durban Tourism head Philip Sithole, two sums of R1.5 million would go towards the hire of venues for the two concerts. TI’s concert, organised by Boomtown Jack Daniels, will be held in the Durban Botanic Gardens on Friday; Nicki Minaj will perform at the Moses Mabhida Stadium next Saturday.
A further R250 000 will be required for event “marketing and advertising”. VAT of R455 000 would bring the total to R3.7 million. Ticket prices range from R490 to R2 750 for both concerts.
City manager S’bu Sithole asked that the matter be withdrawn from Tuesday’s agenda, referring it back to the economic development and planning committee for deliberation today.
DA councillors in exco, Zwakele Mncwango and Heinz de Boer, objected, pointing out that the TI concert was on Friday. Mncwango said: “If the committee meets, it then means you are giving powers to it to make a decision before exco and council.
“It must come to exco and then full council, and there’ll be no council before the 11th.
“We can’t allow the committee and the city manager to make a decision on so much money.”
Mayor James Nxumalo explained that the matter would be discussed in a special council meeting scheduled for Friday.
Earlier, while the controversial cruise conference was being discussed, deputy mayor Nomvuzo Shabalala appeared to shoot down the concert funding.
“It was an insult the way it (the cruise) has been blown out of proportion. Everywhere everybody was playing on it as if it was criminal to send councillors to this conference for R160 000 and yet we are bringing Nicki Minaj for R3.7 million,” she said.
“Already now there is a memo from National Treasury that we need to apply austerity measures in terms of managing our purse,” said Nxumalo. Shabalala interjected with a snide comment, asking “And Nicki Minaj?”
The DA demanded that the matter be discussed yesterday, but the ANC majority did not oblige. The ANC councillors then called for a five-minute caucus to decide on the matter but stood by its original decision. Mdu Nkosi of the IFP said his party supported the event sponsorship as funding had been budgeted for.
“One understands that there is a call to cut costs, but events such as these have been budgeted for.. We don’t have a problem as long as the money is not being taken from other savings. We say that because we understand the number of people who flood into the city for the events which boost our economy, our hospitality industry.
“It would be a sad day if we one day have to close down hotels because there are no visitors coming into the city,” he said.
Mncwango later said it was concerning that the government continued to unnecessarily splurge despite the unfavourable economic climate.
Concert organisers had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.
Source – iol