Outcry over Sopa marquees: Daily Dispatch

Millions likely to be spend on one-day event

DESPITE a huge outcry from opposition parties about the escalating bill of hiring marquees for Bhisho legislature events, the institution is once again looking for service providers to supply tents for the upcoming state of province address (Sopa).

Millions are likely to be spent next month preparing for premier Phumulo Masualle to deliver his third Sopa since he assumed office after the May 2014 elections.

A total of 1 200 guests and 62 MPLs have been invited to attend the oneday event, on which the legislature is unlikely to spend less than R3-million.

Hiring the tents has cost the taxpayer well in excess of R12-million since 2011, an expenditure described as “a complete waste” by opposition parties.

Last Friday, an advert was issued in the media calling for suitable service providers to submit bids in preparation for Masualle’s address.

Yesterday, more than 30 companies attended a compulsory briefing at the institution.

The advert shows the institution is looking for a huge marquee to act as a chamber and dining hall for the event.

Another tent will be a makeshift, air-conditioned kitchen where six caterers will prepare meals.

According to tender specifications, a tent that can accommodate 1 200 guests and 62 MPLs is needed. It must have four glass doors with ramps, elevated flooring with carpets and air conditioners.

There will be a demarcated chamber area for MPLs who will be seated at trestle tables with cream table cloths and skirting. There will also be 120 round tables and 1 200 chairs draped in the legislature colours of green, black, cream and gold.

Tent walls will also be draped in these colours and there will be six huge screens with audio, a stage for a hired band, two mobile fridges and plantscapes in the entrances to the makeshift chamber.

In 2013, while Noxolo Kiviet was still premier, an amount of R2.9-million was utilised for the Sopa, with R1.8-million of that going towards tents and sound.

In 2014, two Sopas were held at a total cost of R5.9-million, one delivered by Kiviet in February and another by Masualle in June, just weeks after he had assumed office as premier.

Over the years the multimillionrand tender has been awarded to the same company, Motale Global Consulting.

In October 2014 the institution’s spokeswoman Bulelwa Ganyaza confirmed plans to erect a 5 000-seater multipurpose centre at the legislature lawns, saying the move was to counter such escalating costs.

However to date, nothing has materialised, with Ganyaza yesterday failing to respond to e-mailed questions at the time of writing.

DA MPL Ross Purdon yesterday described Sopa expenditure as a “clear example of how government money was wasted”.

He added: “This is a clear example of how the ANC-led government wastes money – by prioritising grandstanding political expenditure over delivery of services.”

UDM’s Max Mhlathi said the expenditure “was too much, but was necessary as long as the resolution to build a hall was not yet prioritised”. — asandan@dispatch.co.za