Mjwara gets council funding

2008-08-28 00:00

Just over a month after receiving an R11 million dredging tender from the Msunduzi Municipality, the former KZN Agriculture head, Dr Jabulani Mjwara, and his former secretary, Nontokozo Mathonsi, have received another slice of ratepayers’ money.

This time, Ibhubesi Business Enterprises, jointly owned by the two, was given sponsorship of R250 000 from the mayor’s special projects budget towards the cost of a Women’s Month concert at the Oval in Alexandra Park tomorrow.

Mjwara and Mathonsi are sole owners of Planet Waves, the company given the dredging tender.

The Inkatha Freedom Party expressed outrage. Caucus leader Phillip Zondi claimed they were misled by the manager in the mayor’s office, Evodia Mahlangu, and not given sufficient information when the item was tabled at an Exco meeting two weeks ago.

He felt that Mjwara, as a businessman, should be giving council money to help the poor rather than asking for sponsorship.

The Democratic Alliance said this confirms its belief that tenders and grants from the municipality go to well-connected members of the political elite, “one of whom is under investigation by the province”.

Mjwara resigned from Agriculture shortly before he was due to face a disciplinary hearing over alleged poor management of the department.

The DA’s Bill Lambert said that despite close questioning at the Exco meeting, they were not told the identity of the backers of the concert, “which was enthusiastically endorsed by the ANC”.

The application from Ibhubesi comes on a plain sheet of paper without a letterhead. The address is typed at the top and there are no company details such as company number or vat registration. Mathonsi signed as executive director and the telephone and cellphone numbers were handwritten.

An amount of R6 000 was budgeted for the venue. However, it costs just R900 to hire the Oval for a day, R500 for the venue and R400 for the person who mans the toilets. The Witness also learnt that the Oval was booked by the mayor’s office and not Ibhubesi.

Exco members were told that 15 000 people are expected to attend the concert.

Mathonsi’s letter of appeal said marketing and preparatory plans “are at an advanced stage” and that “ we are confident that we will be pulling crowds in excess of 15 000. In terms of our plans we have lined up local and national artists to play in this concert.”

When the letter went to Exco, some of the artists named had not been contacted, while others had been made tentative offers.

Tickets went on sale at Computicket at R100 for a VIP seat (including a light snack) and R50 for general tickets. By yesterday, Computicket did not have the names of the artists, no adverts were showing and artists are awaiting payment.

The proposal said Ibhubesi Business Enterprises will raise R640 000 from other sponsors and that the total requested from council is R250 000. Questions were asked in Exco whether the money has been raised. Mahlangu said she was told it has.

When contacted yesterday afternoon, two days before the concert, Mathonsi said she had just returned from the bank after paying the artists. She admitted there have been no ticket sales and that admission is now free.

Instead of national artists, only KZN performers will appear, including Lvovo, Professor and Tzozo.

Mathonsi said they cannot pay national artists as they have not received all the sponsorship they expected. While the company has carried out small-scale events, this concert is their first big event, she said.

She refused to be drawn on her and Mjwara’s directorships, saying this has nothing to do with an event whose aim is to honour women.

Asked about the decision to support the funding request, Mahlangu responded: “The office of the mayor received a proposal like any other proposals requesting financial support for their women programme. The office … felt that this was a noble cause; hence a report was submitted to Exco for consideration, which resulted in Exco approving the funding.

“The presentation was based on the information provided by Ibhubesi Business Enterprises.”

nalini@witness.co.za

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