Cash-strapped municipality plans R1.6m jazz festival

2011-11-29 13:01

The cash-strapped Matatiele Local Municipality in the Eastern Cape is carrying on with plans for an ambitious R1.6 million jazz festival despite calls for it to be abandoned.

Titled “Sweet Matat by the Dam”, the four-day festival beginning December 8 has created uproar as politicians want it scrapped.

The province’s portfolio committee on local government was dragged into the event after opposition councillors, in the municipality, kicked up a fuss about an October 28 council decision to approve the festival, which will cost the municipality R1.6 million.

It also emerged that KwaZulu-Natal-based events company, Cyassound, which got the R1.6 million tender for the event, had invoiced the municipality for a 50% deposit three days before the council meeting.

The committee wrote to Matatiele mayor Ntombovuyo Nkopane last week asking her to cancel the event.

But the town’s spokesperson, Nthabeleng Seshea, said the event was still going ahead, adding Nkopane expected the MEC for local government to write to her, and not the committee.

“The mayor was concerned no one from the committee asked for her side of the story. She expected it was going to be the MEC who would write and make such a request, and not the committee.

“To us as officials we have got nothing notifying us to cancel this event, and preparations are ongoing,” Seshea said.

Cyassound owner Siya Msomi said megastars such as Thandiswa Mazwai, Siphokazi of “Amacala” fame, Ringo Madlingozi, the Jahziel Brothers had been confirmed to perform at Matatiele’s Pleasure Dam on December 10, alongside cultural groups and other smaller jazz bands.

He also said house DJs Cleo, L’vovo, and others from the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal would perform at the preparty on the 9th.

“We’ve also managed to secure an agreement with (Orlando Pirates football star) Andile Jali to be a special guest in his hometown,” he said.

Committee chairperson Xolike Nqatha (ANC) said if the municipality continues with the event and the auditor-general flags anything to do with the concert, the sitting councillors will be made to foot the bill.

A disturbed Nqatha said: “It would have been better if funding for this activity came from an external company and the municipality would piggyback with a small contribution.

“But they can’t foot the entire bill ... Not even bigger municipalities do that.

“They are so poor, where do they even get the money to do this? If they continue this will set a bad precedent for other municipalities,” he said.

The DA’s Veliswa Mvenya, who was in the committee meeting, said: “What was concerning for us was that Matatiele is among the poorest municipalities in the province. If they have extra money, it should be used for job creation, because the majority of people there are unemployed. “This is the same place where the people wanted to be part of KwaZulu-Natal because of service delivery issues, so we can’t fail them and let this happen,” she said.

Defending the event, Seshea said the main purpose of the event was to attract investors to Matatiele through tourism.

“We’ve got a lot of natural resources that our people can use to create jobs and make a living, and the question has always been how we get investors to come here and see the opportunities that exist,” Seshea added.

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