Botched festival — residents want answers

2019-02-13 06:00

THE Daisy Creek Festival was extensively promoted over many months by the Greytown Community Tourism Organisation (GCTO) to be held during December 2018. This event was to finally put Greytown on the tourism and events map, and the entire Umvoti community was keen to get involved as it appeared to be a huge venture, bringing in tens of thousands of outsiders, and boosting the local economy.

At the commencement of the planning and organising, a house or office was apparently leased for the committee to work from. Publically available minutes of extensive meetings attest to a great amount of planning going into this venture.

It was obviously going to need large amounts of financing to get the show on the road.

The site of the festival was Lake Merthley, which was proudly touted as an environmental treasure, with the Hilton daisy and dozens of other rare indigenous plants growing endemically by the lake.

In spite of this proud claim, a wetland next to the lake was destructively graded for parking. It is common knowledge that any destructive action on such an ecologically sensitive area must have an environmental impact assessment carried out by a suitably qualified scientist. Was an environmental impact assessment done? If so, what was the recommendation, and who paid for it and the destruction of the wetland, which feeds into Lake Merthley, Greytown’s major water supply?

Expensive full-colour, glossy brochures were printed for the official programme at the Hilton-Michaelhouse annual rugby match, sharing the advertising costs with a giant of a company CELL-C, a cost that would not have come lightly. A substantial gazebo was pitched at this venue, with “volunteers’’ to hand out costly brochures, branded caps and T-shirts.

A similar scenario occurred at the Greytown Museum Arts and Crafts Fair, and an all-expenses paid function was held in Nhlalakale, with paid-for food supplied by Mdluli’s Fast Food. A catered evening function was held at the Greytown Country Club, and a very expensive, professionally-produced drone video promoted the function, and full colour posters were printed. Caps, T-shirts and brochures were also handed out at several other functions.

Just prior to the proposed commencement of the festival, a function was held up at Lake Merthley, at which attendees paid an entrance fee of R50/head. Does the committee have a record of the expenses and income from that function?

All of these expenses came to nought, as cancellation of the festival was advertised in the Greytown Gazette on December 12, 2018 — two days before it was to take place. The reason put forward by the GCTO was that the major funder had pulled out. Who was that funder, did they pay for any of the expenses outlined above, and why did they deem it sensible to pull out at the last minute?

Several other pertinent questions arise, of great interest to Greytown ratepayers:

1. Did any costs for the wetland destruction, functions, printing of advertising materials, promotional material, branded clothing, venue hire, free food and drinks, drone hire, and video production costs get debited to the Umvoti Municipality, and was payment made with municipal funds, or was payment made by the major funder (1Life insurance company?) To which individual or organisations were payments made?

2. Were audited accounts kept? Can these be accessed online?

3. Were the volunteers paid by the municipality?

4. Can the chairperson attest to all members being fully aware of, and involved in, this venture, and aware of what income was received, what expenses were incurred, what payments were made and to who?

5. Can the GCTO attest that no committee members received payment for any work done or not done for the festival?

At the time of the event planning, the GCTO committee consisted of S. Slatter, D.Ndluli, R. Harris, G.Jila, M. Malinga, and T. Edwards.

It was a great disappointment to the community that the festival did not take place, and it is of great interest as to why it was cancelled, and who paid for all the above very expensive materials and functions.

The GCTO owes it to Greytown ratepayers to give a full explanation as to what happened with the Great Daisy Creek Fiasco.




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