Economic Development ‘blew millions’ on events

2014-11-12 00:00

THE KwaZulu-Natal Economic Development and Tourism Department spent more than R30 million on sports and entertainment activities that had nothing to do with its core functions.

This was the accusation levelled by several members of the finance portfolio committee at a hearing yesterday.

The members complained of poor planning and stopped just short of accusing the management of incompetence.

Department head Desmond Golding fought back, saying the activities were part of the department’s mandate.

IFP MPL Lionel Mtshali demanded to know the government’s exposure to events that have been paid for upfront by the department, but which have yet to take place.

This was after the MPLs were reminded of a debacle where the department paid R28 million upfront for the North Sea Jazz Festival, which was never held. The department is trying to recover the money.

Golding failed to address Mtshali’s question directly, prompting the annoyed MPL to repeat it.

“I asked a simple question: how many projects are there that the department is paying upfront for? How hard is that to answer?”

Golding said there were several other projects that required upfront payment, although he did not have the actual number of such projects. “We will no longer be paying upfront unless the contract specifies so,” he said.

Golding was at pains to explain that the numerous sporting and entertainment events the department was sponsoring were not a waste of money, but part of the department’s initiative to stimulate economic growth.

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