KZN spent R1,6?mln on Sopa

2015-03-06 00:00

THE KwaZulu-Natal provincial governement spent more than R1,6 million on marketing and broadcasting last week’s 2015 State of the Province Address (Sopa).

The Witness can reveal that this amount included pre-Sopa adverts and radio announcements including calls for suggestions from the public on issues that the KwaZulu-Natal Premier Senzo Mchunu needed to cover.

Head of provincial government communications Thami Ngwenya said the amount spent this year was a significant reduction from last year’s R1,9 million.

“As the provincial government communication, our major task is to provide development communication to the public. This must be a combination of platforms that will empower the public, especially the underprivileged, with information,” said Ngwenya, justifying the expenditure.

The budget for advertising and marketing activities for the provincial government communication for the 2014/2015 financial year is about R5 million, said Ngwenya.

The Witness understands that R200 500 was paid to various community stations to broadcast the address.

A document leaked to The Witness states that R644 100 was paid to Richards Bay-based community television station 1KZNTV owned by KZN businessman Themba Fakazi. The television station airs on DStv’s bouquet channel 261 and has a viewership of 714 000 per week.

SABC’s Ukhozi FM was paid R230 000 to provide live crossings of the event.

Ngwenya said arrangements were made with 14 community radio stations to broadcast the Sopa; these included Radio Khwezi, Umgungundlovu FM, Zululand FM, Izwi Lomzansi, Inanda FM and Vibe FM, among others.

“We believe it is the public that will judge whether government is making impact in communicating its programs in a manner that enables the people to gain access to government programs and services.

“As the provincial government, we recognise the crucial importance of partnership between community media and ourselves,” said Ngwenya.

He said it was not the first time government had engaged the services of 1KZN to broadcast the Sopa.

“It was a resolution taken by the provincial heads of communication three years ago after 1KZNTV did a presentation to the forum. Members of the forum, at the time, had a meeting with 1KZNTV in Richards Bay and it was decided that since 1KZNTV was the only community TV station in the province, a partnership with it must thus be pursued,” explained Ngwenya.

He said, “SABC News (Channel 404) had a live Sopa broadcast as well as ANN7. Ukhozi FM and Lotus FM also had live crossings of the Sopa.”

DA KZN leader Sizwe Mchunu said the party has always questioned the expenditure for the two-day event.

“If they spent R1,6 million on advertising and marketing alone, it means that we are looking at about R10 million for the whole event because we have to take into account catering, administration and accommodation,” he said.

“We want the government to get its priorities straight; they should start spending money on improving the lives of the people rather than splurging money on events,” said Mchunu.

IFP’s Blessed Gwala vowed to investigate the matter. “I think that it raises an ethical question because if they are paid to do the broadcast then they will always be biased towards government. This means that they can’t be critical about government in their news broadcasts,” he said.

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