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Economic agency takes control of convention centre

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“The Northern Cape Economic Development Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (Nceda) took full control of venue management of this facility as from September 8.”

Picture: Danie van der Lith

INTERNATIONAL Convention Solutions (ICS) has vacated the Mittah Seperepere Convention Centre (MSCC) and removed all their assets, following a court order that instructed that they should leave the premises last month.

The court, on August 7, dismissed an appeal by Umfana Business Enterprises CC and Silver Solutions CC joint venture trading as ICS in an attempt to prevent their eviction from the premises.

The Northern Cape High Court found that the agreement between the Department of Finance, Economic Affairs and Tourism and ICS had been validly cancelled in 2012.

The company was ordered to hand in its financial statements as well as provide a breakdown of all income generated through the hiring out of the venue, within 30 days of the court order.

ICS managing director Clarissa Carstens indicated that they would not be taking their appeal on review.

She stated that ICS ceased venue management of the MSCC as from September 7, following a two-year court battle.

“The Northern Cape Economic Development Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (Nceda) took full control of venue management of this facility as from September 8.”

Carstens said an agreement was reached where they would organise all the events at MSCC that had been booked with their company until the end of the year. “Deposits paid for events to ICS were negotiated with Nceda to be executed as quoted and agreed upon. This is to ensure a smooth transition and commitment to our clients.”

She added that they had been inundated with calls from members of the public wanting to make bookings, where they said there was no one to assist them at MSCC.

“They complained that after we left the doors were locked and there are no staff on site.”

The CEO of Nceda, Thobela Dikeni, said that the MSCC was operational.

“We held a successful function last week and will host the Polmusca music festival as well as the heritage awards ceremony this month. There is no booking that we failed to honour,” said Dikeni.

“We only legally took over the management of the centre last week. We will need time to establish ourselves and there are bound to be some teething problems. Budgetary processes must unfold and we are assessing if there are any losses, theft or damages and are checking the asset register.”

He stated that a person had been appointed to make bookings for the facility and to handle enquiries.

“We have put together a team from Nceda for corporate services and risk management and have appointed security.”

Dikeni indicated that they did not intend appointing an events management company to run the MSCC.

“At the moment Nceda staff are operating the centre. We will outsource the catering so as to boost local businesses, where preference will be given to black economic empowered businesses along with women and youth entrepreneurs. We will still decide on whether other services such as cleaning will be outsourced.”

Dikeni said they had met with ICS and reminded them to comply with the court order to hand over their outstanding financial statements, detailing their expenses and income.

“I unfortunately cannot confirm whether this information has been handed in. It is only after the auditor-general has scrutinised the books, that calculations can be made as to what ICS must pay back to provincial government. If they refuse to hand over their financials, the law will have to take its course.”

He added that he was not aware of the R9 million rates and taxes debt incurred by ICS.

“We have not seen any municipal account either for Nceda or for ICS. If the debt was incurred by ICS they will be liable to pay for it.”

Dikeni stated that no staff employed at MSCC by ICS would be absorbed by Nceda.