R2.5m heritage festival ‘flop’ adds to Free State turmoil

2011-09-27 10:12

A Heritage Day festival with an estimated price tag of R2.5 million has put a new spin on the political turmoil in the Lejweleputswa district in the Free State.

Insiders in the ANC have criticised the mayor of the district municipality and former chairperson of the ANC in the region, Mathabo Leeto, for spending so much money on a festival that was “haphazardly and poorly planned”.

Leeto resigned last week as ANC regional chairperson and Free State premier and provincial ANC leader, Ace Magashule, dissolved the regional leadership committee.

This is the second time that Leeto has been criticised for spending lavishly.

In July this year, just after her appointment as mayor of the district municipality which includes Welkom, R600 000 was spent on a lavish mayoral inauguration party while a job-creation project which would have put food on the table for 131 families for another four months was cancelled.

Leeto cancelled the project, saying it was not the district municipality’s mandate to create jobs.

Leeto’s critics said the heritage festival was a “total waste of money and a major flop”.

According to them some of the well-known local artists that were supposed to entertain the crowd did not pitch up.

The district municipality apparently planned to ask an entry fee of between R30 and R50, but when spectators did not turn up in their numbers, the gates were opened for everyone to enter free of charge.

City Press has sent detailed questions to the district municipality on tender processes and costs related to the festival.

“Our official response is that the council endorsed the event and there won’t be any further correspondence on our side regarding the matter,” its response reads.

Meanwhile, the Free State has been singled out as the province in which the state of the ANC is among the worst in an organisational report compiled by secretary-general Gwede Mantashe. 

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