The Democratic Alliance stands against the decision to halt the Gariep Festival, which has been a flagship tourism event in the city of Kimberley for the past eighteen years. This shows the need for the provincial and local governments to overhaul its approach to funding tourism events, especially festivals, to ensure that organisers and SMMEs benefit fairly and transparently. It appears that funding is currently distributed on the goodwill and say-so of a few politicians instead of taking the relevant economic factors into account.
We call on residents to boycott those events which are funded solely from taxpayers’ money for the benefit of a few fat cats and exclude society as a whole.
The Gariep Festival contributed immensely to the provincial economy by drawing large numbers of tourists, providing a platform for local artists and boasting an impressive corporate social responsibility programme which provided tickets for people with disabilities, the elderly and those who could otherwise not afford this experience.
It is the festival in the Northern Cape which creates the most employment opportunities, which is desperately needed in today’s economic climate, as well as raising awareness and funds for a number of charitable organisations. It is the only festival in the region which has a family-friendly atmosphere.
If it was felt by the Sol Plaatje Local Municipality that the Gariep Festival did not speak to the demographics of the region, it could have attached conditions to the funding to address these concerns instead of launching a racial attack.
By comparison, the Diamonds & Dorings Festival is nothing but a patronage network established to benefit a few cronies and companies with the right political connections. Those that attend this event will be complicit in the patronage network and cronyism, as the owners of Diamonds & Dorings seem to be interested only in lining their pockets and enriching their friends and families.
It might be for this reason that Diamonds & Dorings failed to submit a report on the economic spinoffs created by its event, as required by the Northern Cape Tourism Authority. Why should a company, given millions and millions of our hard-earned taxes, be allowed to use that money as it sees fit and then fail to report on it adequately?
More needs to be done by the provincial and local government to identify tourism events which are capable of bringing meaningful opportunities to our people.