Row brews over ANC ‘donation’

2014-02-09 14:00

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A top music promoter says he lost a multimillion-rand contract for the ­annual Limpopo Marula Festival ­because he refused to pay R200?000 to transport ANC delegates to its ­December 2012 Mangaung conference.

The spokesperson for the Ba­Phalaborwa Local Municipality now says that Bruce Kgapane must lay a charge against the officials who had asked him for the ­money.

Kgapane signed a five- year contract with the municipality after the economic development and tourism department, which organised the event, was placed under ­administration in 2011.

The week-long festival brings people together to brew and sell traditional marula beer.

City Press was told by a municipal official that the contract, which was supposed to end in 2016, was ­terminated after ANC councillors claimed Kgapane had pocketed all the profits from the event and did not share them with the council as stipulated.

But Kgapane said the contract was ended last September. He said this was because he had declined a request by ANC municipality officials to donate R200?000 towards the transport of Ba-Phalaborwa delegates to Mangaung.

“I got a call from officials in the ­municipality who said they were asked by their bosses to donate R200?000 to pay for transport for delegates to the conference,” he said.

“I refused because I didn’t know who the delegates were supporting because the region was divided between [supporters of] President Jacob Zuma and his deputy, Kgalema Motlanthe.

“I didn’t want people to say that ­Kgapane gave money to Zuma ­supporters or Motlanthe supporters.

“I’m a businessman and didn’t want to be accused of those things.”

Kgapane said he was shocked when the municipality later accused him of not being transparent with his financial dealings.

He said that, according to the contract he had signed, he was supposed to take 80% of the profits.

But he claimed that since he took over, the festival has not made a profit. “Now they’ve concocted a story that I received R7?million from the arts and culture department, which is a lie.

“They also said I didn’t disclose a full list of my sponsors, which is also a lie. They used these lies as a scapegoat to deal with me for ­refusing to accede to their requests.”

Kgapane said he had decided to sue the municipality for loss of income ­after several meetings he held with them ended without a resolution.

“I have lost R9?million. My sponsors have pulled out because the contract was terminated. We are also trying to see how much we have lost in gate ­takings because we were planning to bring out John Legend and other prominent international acts this year.”

Ba-Phalaborwa municipal spokesperson Jonas Mahesu said the municipality would not comment on the merits of the case because it was sub judice.

But he lauded Kgapane for his refusal to pay. “The Mangaung conference was an ANC event overseen and organised by the national organising committee of the organisation,” Mahesu said.

“So how can individuals from here demand payment from him? It was unlawful and illegal for officials to demand money from a service provider and he must take steps against them.”

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