R28m for jazz festival that never was

2013-08-04 10:31

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Durban - The KwaZulu-Natal government forked out a whopping R28m for a music concert that did not take place and is now battling to recoup the money.

According to the Sunday Independent, the provincial Department of Economic Development and Tourism entered into an agreement in June last year with a consortium to stage the internationally renowned North Sea Jazz Festival in Durban. The concert was initially scheduled for November last year.

However, after months of wrangling between festival promoters, rights holders and the department, money was paid out but nothing happened.

It was found that R28m was paid over, with R16.9m spent. But the department, worried that the entire budget could disappear, ordered promoters to stop spending the money and demanded a refund – thought to be about R11m.

It was also found that the province had paid millions for South African rights to the festival.

Despite a high-level delegation to Rotterdam, Netherlands, to attend and “get a feel for” the event, the Dutch rights holders, Mojo, cancelled their contract with organising consortium MPM/Softskills due to non-payment. This after KZN had already paid over R28m to the consortium.

Following many discussions with Mojo, the consortium and other parties involved, it was concluded in March that the project couldn’t be saved and should be scrapped. A task team established at the time to sort out the wrangling praised the KZN department for having frozen the unspent R11.1m and for having called for full accountability from the local promoters for the R16.9m spent.

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