Comrades vs The Comrades

2019-06-07 15:00
The Msunduzi City Hall.

The Msunduzi City Hall.

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Councillors feel Msunduzi is being disrespected by the Comrades Marathon Association and that the City is not getting its money’s worth from helping to sponsor the race, which pumps millions into the local economy.

This came up during a recent meeting where council approved a R1,65 million three-year grant for the annual event.

Executive committee member Eunice Majola-Zondi said while the council was unanimous in its support for the Comrades, she was also of the view that Msunduzi’s tourism unit should start quantifying the benefits of the annual marathon.

“As Msunduzi Municipality we support this event but I don’t see our role, first as councillors, when we go there we are treated like step-children sitting there at the corner. Maybe we need to get what we deserve because if we sponsor this event, we need to be recognised.”

She said the council would like to be treated as a partner in the hosting of the marathon.

But CMA chairperson Cheryl Winn said the association immensely valued and respected its relationship with Msunduzi Municipality.

“Pietermaritzburg is our home and our birthplace … However, we do not have unlimited resources and we have a vast number of sponsors, partners and other stakeholders we have an obligation to host on race day.”

She said in terms of the CMA’s agreement with Msunduzi, the City was entitled to 10 VIP invitations, of which five are VVIP, which the municipality allocates at their own discretion.

The DA’s Ross Strachan asked that Msunduzi do an annual assessment of the sponsorship and align it with the municipality’s financial situation at the time.

The ACDP’s Rienus Niemand said the Comrades was the most watched and talked about international event in the city and Msunduzi should be capitalising on being associated with it.

“What do we get out of it? We are not getting the mileage that we can use and ‘abuse’ for the advantage of this city and we really need to look at that.”

According to a report that came before council Msunduzi planned to give R550 000 of the sponsorship amount to the Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) each year and also provide operational support — including ensuring the electricity supply and infrastructure at either the start or finish of the race.

CMA would use R50 000 of the sponsorship amount on another local annual project, the Greater Edendale Race.

“As the host city, we stand to gain not only economically but also branding opportunities through leveraging the Comrades brand, exposures in various local and international mediums,” reads the report.

As part of the partnership agreement Msunduzi is entitled to put up its branding over a distance of 300 metres on the day of the race.

The economic injection that comes with the marathon was estimated to be around R700 million.

Municipal spokesperson Ntobeko Ngcobo said the City was ready to welcome the 25 000 athletes who would be participating in the 94th Comrades Marathon from Durban on Sunday.

“The municipality has done everything to ensure that the athletes as well as their families and supporters can have a safe and trouble-free stay in the City of Choice.”

She said the marathon was a signature world-class event on Msunduzi’s calendar and the municipality was proud to have renewed their contract with CMA for another three years.

She appealed to drivers for patience and to plan their routes carefully, to obey police instructions and pay attention to road closures during the duration of the marathon.

“We wish to extend our warm wishes to all participants. We hope they will enjoy the race and also return to the City of Choice with an intention to explore our many sites and wonders.”

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  comrades marathon

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