R1.8 MILLION “SWEET MATATIELE BY THE DAM” JAZZ FESTIVAL NOT SO SWEET

The impoverished Matatiele municipality is to hold a three day jazz festival costing R1,8 million despite it being unfunded, the deal being steamrollered past the local council, invoices made out three days before the “go-ahead” came from council and no tender procedures. The “Sweet Matat by the Dam” jazz festival is not sweet. In our view this council is being reckless.

I have asked questions to the MEC for Local Government, Mlibo Qoboshiyane, about this festival for oral reply in the legislature during the next sitting in two weeks time. If he cannot come up with satisfactory answers I will request the Public Protector to do a full investigation. We want to see a full audit trail of how this event came about.

This municipality is home to deep rural communities, where in 2007, 76% of the population lived on less than R800 a month. The planned cost of the sales of tickets of R200 for adults and R75 for children is insensitive and must raise affordability questions for such an impoverished community.

The anticipated cost of the event is R1,8 million, with R1,6 million coming from council coffers and R200 000 to be sought from donations from businesses. This municipality is owed R39 million in mainly outstanding rates, refuse and electricity and this festival is reckless and inappropriate.

With a budget of R91,7 million for the 2011/12 financial year this expenditure represents 2% of the budget — money that should be used for creating capacity and employing staff or service delivery needs.

Of further concern is:

• According to the concept document, the events management company, Cyassound would be appointed. No tender process took place, despite the budget of R1, 6 million;

• The festival was approved by the Matatiele municipal council on 28 October 2011 despite objections from the opposition and was adopted without putting the item to vote;

• Cyassound invoiced for a 50% deposit of R808 000 on 25 October 2011, three days before the council meeting. The DA is in possession of a copy of the invoice, which has been paid.

According to the concept document the three day event, which is to start on 8 December, is intended as a job creation programme for 300 people. It is not clear if the 300 jobs include “200 cars guards and marshals to provide carguiding services at a cost to the municipality”. For the document, click here:

matatiele jazz festival

While any form of job creation is to be welcomed, this must not be done at the expense of service delivery or frivolous expenditure.  This municipality should be creating long term sustainable employment from LED (Local Economic Development) initiatives rather than funding an extravagant three-day festival jolly.

As the accounting officer, the municipal manager should know better than to authorise payment of R808 000 for an unbudgeted festival jolly.

Such expenditure should be used to fund long term, sustainable projects for jobs, poverty alleviation and service delivery.

From the information at hand it is clear that there are vested interests.