KZN defies Gordhan ban on WC tickets

2010-06-16 00:00

AS World Cup fever continues to grip the country, the KwaZulu-Natal government may be in trouble with Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan for purchasing World Cup tickets with public funds.

Ndabezinhle Sibiya, spokesperson for Premier Zweli Mkhize, confirmed yesterday that the provincial government has bought World Cup tickets for all the members of the KZN Legislature and for some staff members who are handling international relations matters.

They were bought despite a warning from Gordhan that spending public money on tickets will amount to “unauthorised and irregular expenditure” and contravention of the Public Finance Management Act.

More than R11 million has reportedly been spent by government departments on purchasing World Cup tickets.

Sibiya said: “As the provincial government, we have mobilised all leaders from our society to be involved in a marketing campaign aimed at positioning KwaZulu-Natal as a destination for investment and leisure.

“We have also ensured that leaders of political parties are available to potential investors and all international visitors who are in the country for the World Cup.

“Consequently, we have lined up a series of events which target ambassadors, consular-general and other key officials from countries that are based in KwaZulu-Natal during the World Cup.”

He said tickets were allocated to members of the provincial legislature because the KZN government wants to ensure that they become ambassadors for the province.

Sibiya emphasised that this was a KZN cabinet decision.

He said figures detailing how much was spent and how many tickets were made available will be issued later.

The Democratic Alliance has turned down the provincial government’s offer of free tickets, calling the exercise a frivolous waste of taxpayers’ money.

DA chief whip in the KZN Legislature Radley Keys said: “While the members of the DA caucus are all ardent soccer fans, we do not view deployment to soccer matches as being a core function of our duties as members of parliament.”

Keys added that any DA public representative who takes free tickets offered by government will be subject to disciplinary action by the party.

Meanwhile, the National Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) yesterday demanded that state entities pay back the R11 million reportedly spent on 2010 World Cup tickets in defiance of a government ban on purchasing match seats with public funds.

“Our union finds it totally unacceptable that our townships are burning because of poor service delivery and millions go hungry every day, yet overpaid state bureaucrats are stealing taxpayers’ money to watch soccer. We call on the Auditor-General to investigate this violation of the Public Finance Management Act,” said Nehawu.



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