Dozens of service providers for the Mandela Day Marathon have not been paid since August and uMgungundlovu District is not revealing why.Apparently they have been caught in the crossfire of a three-way war between politicians, senior officials and the district manager, Ray Ngcobo.The district, which is the custodian of the annual race, had budgeted R5 million for the event.The project management tender was given to Hillcrest’s Proactive Public Relations and Events, which then hired the contractors who provided services ranging from refreshments, transport, marquees and even ablution facilities.Proactive submitted its invoice of more than R3 million to uMgungundlovu shortly after the race, but has not received any payment.Sources at the district suspect a feud between politicians and management as the reason for the non-payment.They said there was animosity between Ngcobo and his deputies, and certain politicians were bitter over decisions by the district manager that had deprived them of tender opportunities.“The sad part is that innocent people are now getting hurt because of their fights. I don’t even know what to say about the marathon because this is Mandela’s legacy they are toying with,” said one of the sources.Another said the provincial government should take over the marathon.“This year’s race could be at risk because contractors might not want to get involved after this.“They are being sent from pillar to post whenever they ask about their money and it’s not fair because they also have financial commitments they need to meet,” he said.UMGUNGUNDLOVU REACTSDistrict spokesperson Brian Zuma, who was part of the municipal team that organised the marathon, said there was money set aside for the event and he did not know why Proactive had not been paid. “Maybe the management will be able to shed some light because they might know something that we don’t,” he said.This week Ngcobo confirmed to The Witness he had received the invoice and approved its payment “long ago”.“I don’t know why the finance department has not released the funds and they’ve not given me any explanation as to why they haven’t paid Proactive,” he said.SERVICE PROVIDERS REACTRace director Johan van Staden said he was aware that some service providers had not been paid but was also in the dark as to why.He said he had already been paid half of his fee because he had a direct contract with uMgungundlovu, unlike those who were hired by Proactive.“I’m not concerned about the rest of my money because I know I will get it because the agreement was that I would be paid in portions, but I honestly don’t know why Proactive has not been paid,” Van Staden said.Meanwhile, service providers such as Daniel van Heerden of DMS Cabling have been financially inconvenienced by the decision of uMgungundlovu’s management to withhold Proactive’s payment.He said his cell phone and electricity were disconnected because he could not pay on time as he was still waiting for his money from Proactive.Van Heerden sympathised with the director of Proactive, Zama Mlotshwa, saying she was also stressing about the non-payment as it compromised her relationship with the suppliers.“We’ve been involved in the past five marathons and when there we delays with payments the municipality liaised with Proactive and Zama then kept us updated, but this time we can’t get any answers even when we call the municipality,” he said.Save Cash and Carry’s Suleman Parak said this was their third Mandela Day Marathon and they provided refreshments. The wholesaler is owed more than R1 million for refreshments.“The agreement was that they would pay us 30 days after the race, which would have been the end of September. But we didn’t panic when that didn’t happen because in the past we had delays in payments where we got our money in November but now we are in January,” said Parak.He said uMgungundlovu officials had given them different stories, including saying the payments had been withheld because of the SIU probe, but officials told them they also did not know why Proactive had not been paid.PROACTIVE REACTSMlotshwa responded through a letter from her attorney, Stan Mashala, saying the matter was subject to an SIU investigation into the marathon.He said she was co-operating with the probe and would be contacting the SIU to ensure that it had all the required information.