Residents demand answers regarding botched festival

2019-04-17 06:00

RATEPAYERS in Greytown are turning up the heat against the organisers of the Daisy Creek Festival, demanding that they obtain clarity on the alleged mismanagement of funds that has been cited as the main reason that led to the cancellation of the festival last year. The eagerly-awaited festival was scheduled to take place in Greytown in December 17 and December 18 at Lake Merthley.

In a joint statement sent to the Gazette by 12 concerned ratepayers, residents demanded answers from Umvoti Community Tourism Organisation (GCTO), Umvoti Municipality and 1Life Insurance Company.

In the two letters sent to the Gazette, a representative of the concerned ratepayers, Mike Barrow, said: “The Daisy Creek Festival was extensively promoted over many months by the GCTO [Umvoti Community Tourism Organisation] 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. Publicly 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.”

According to a Gazette article on September 18, about 12 South African top artists were expected to take part in the festival and local vendors and stall owners were asked to sign up for the festival.

Workers who had already started work at Lake Merthley pulled out after they did not receive their salaries.

Early this year, the Gazette published a letter from ratepayers demanding answers about the cancellation. 1Life Insurance Company subsequently sent a response distancing itself from allegations.

“It was illuminating to read the categorical denial from 1Life Insurance company that they were ever involved in the event. Is 1Life Insurance Company aware that their logo was displayed prominently on the advertising for the event? Have they spoken to anyone from the GCTO about the blatant misrepresentation as to 1Life’s involvement, presumably to give the event some respectability?

“The rapid response from 1Life contrasts glaringly with the complete silence from the committee members of the GCTO. There are/were six members on this committee,” Barrow said.

“This matter cannot be left to simply disappear due to inactivity on the part of the GCTO, which I presume is funded in part from the Umvoti Municipality, and therefore by ratepayers,” ratepayers said in a statement.

The Gazette contacted Sean Slatter from the Umvoti Community Tourism Organisation for comment. “I respond in my personal capacity, as UCTO may have run aground and calling a meeting with a quorum has not happened. A final meeting has been set and thereafter a legal representative may have to recommend a possible way forward,” said Slatter.

The Gazette contacted 1Life for comment this week, with head of marketing for 1Life Katharine Liese saying: “We stand by our previous response and would like to again state that 1Life was not a partner or sponsor of the Daisy Creek Festival at any stage and we distance ourselves from such claims. 1Life had no contractual agreements with the organisers of this event, and the brand name is being linked to this event with no permission provided. Furthermore, any mention of 1Life in press material issued by the organisers was not approved and is factually inaccurate.”

Spokesperson for Umvoti Municipality Phindile Phungula told the Gazette that no costs associated with the Daisy Creek Festival have been paid by Umvoti Municipality.

“We had undertaken as the CTO not to ask Umvoti for financial help in terms of our agreement on this issue. 1Life Insurance was not announced or confirmed as a major sponsor of the Daisy Creek Festival, what was communicated were the negotiations between parties. Payments made by the CTO from own resources were for the upkeep of operations and day to day costs,” said Phungula, adding that audited financial statements are a requirement when entities trade in excess of R3.6 Million annually.

“The Daisy Creek Festival has as yet not made any monies worthy of declaration; our processes and proceeds have been from volunteers and facts have been gained from existing studies and research. Where we have been able to the CTO has paid stipends of appreciation to those volunteers we have been able to engage with us, we are not aware of some of the costs listed below at all,” Phungula said.

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