by Andrew Louw – DA Northern Cape Premier Candidate
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Date: 07 March 2019
The cancellation of the controversial Diamonds & Dorings festival for 2019 is an acknowledgment of the folly in awarding a flagship event of the municipality to an outside service provider at a time when the importance of localization and local procurement in economic development is emphasized within government.
We do not object to the festival itself. But over the years, the apparent abuse of public resources, corruption and ongoing lack of good governance has become thorny issues which can no longer be ignored.
As much as we long to see events hosted in the city and in the province which promote tourism and provide entertainment to residents, we cannot do so if the price tag is our souls. The municipality can and must do more to transform this flagship festival from a thornbush of poor decisions to a sparkling attraction.
We now need to see a true commitment to transparency and the promotion of tourism, which must begin by restoring the function of appointing a service provider to the LED committee of the municipality. Especially at this time of heightened instability and acting staff in key positions, including the posts of municipal manager and chief financial officer, the municipality has proved that it lacks the capacity and the will to adjudicate the tender timeously through a bid adjudication process.
While an event of this scope should ideally be advertised at least six months in advance, with artists already signed up, the tender was only advertised on December 7th 2018. Considering that the event is, as always, held over the Easter weekend, the municipality gave itself hardly enough time to consider all submitted bid thoroughly. It definitely did not give itself enough time to resolve any subsequent disputes.
It should be asked if this was done deliberately to ensure that a certain service provider would benefit. Are there officials within the municipality who wanted to collude with a service provider, who would give him information about when the tender process would be open and what the requirements of the bid would be so that his company could prepare a bid well in advance?
We believe that an answer to this question is especially pertinent in light of the timing of the decision to take the appointment of a service provider through a bid adjudication process, which is generally less transparent and far less open to public scrutiny. The decision appears to be taken only after the Democratic Alliance requested an investigation from the Public Protector in March 2018 into the provision of both financial and non-financial support by government to the previous service provider, Macronymn 37CC.
After an initial reluctance to provide regular feedback on the status of the investigation, we now receive status reports. Earlier this week, we were informed that sponsors not mentioned in our original complaint were responding positively to requests for further information.
We await this report with bated breath.
In the meantime, we also demand answers from the municipality on how it intends to utilize the funds which had been budgeted for the hosting of Diamonds & Dorings. It reportedly set aside R1.2 million in sponsorship of the event, with an additional R1 million for a branded marquee.
This budget can do far more to develop the economy and attract tourists by fixing the real deterrents to tourism. With R2.2 million, we can fix many potholes and replace many burst water pipes. We can stop the rivers of raw sewerage which run down roads and into people’s homes.
Ultimately, to prevent the escalation of such controversies and to promote the hosting of events which boost the local economy, we need to bring about a change in government. With the replacement of Mangaliso Matika by Patrick Mabilo as Executive Mayor, with the replacement of acting municipal manager with acting municipal manager, we can see that the ANC remains the same broken vehicle incapable of delivering true growth. It is only the DA which can bring change.