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Our city was not ready – Nocci

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“We love our city and are proud of it, but we were embarrassed and exposed to the world.”

The economic impact of the ANC’s 108th Anniversary Celebrations hosted in Kimberley has left local businesses hot under the collar.

The CEO of the Northern Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Nocci), Sharon Steyn, asked why Kimberley had been chosen to host an event of such a magnitude when it was clearly not ready and lacked the capacity.

Steyn added that she was disappointed that the ANC boasted about its readiness around hosting the anniversary celebrations before cleaning its own house, and before bringing people from other provinces to witness its weaknesses.

She further stated that Nocci, as the formal business sector, had not been engaged properly, despite the fact that this sector is the biggest contributor to the Northern Cape economy.

It has been reported that the ANC spent more than R50 million on the celebrations with the cake alone costing R127 000.

It has also been alleged that service providers for the event demanded that they be paid up front as they feared that they would not receive their money.

Nocci accused the ANC government of calling the world and exposing how they had failed to maintain the city, which was dubbed as the cleanest city 14 years ago.

“Now we are regarded as a disgusting city by ambassadors and leaders from other countries.

“We love our city and are proud of it, but we were embarrassed and exposed to the world.”

Steyn pointed out, however, that it was fantastic that guests houses and hotels were fully booked, but added that the city did not get half of the boost that it had expected from the week-long extravaganza.

She said that it was sad that the ANC had spent so much money on a celebration, while the hosting community was suffering and the municipality had no money to clean its own town.

“It is a fact that we did not have the capacity to host the event and were just embarrassed as a town. We even had a tongue-lashing from the president, where the premier and the mayor seemingly did not know how to respond.

Busy

“The guest houses were fully booked, garages were busy and so were the shopping malls, which was good . . . an applause for that. But it also showed the lack of engagement from the event organisers which would have enabled us to increase our resources in that regard.”

She added that local SMMEs were also not taken into consideration as “friends were considered while local expertees were overlooked”.

“The set-up was so informal that SMMEs did not get a platform to showcase their businesses. Some of the visitors also headed straight to the malls and bottle stores before making their way into the Tafel Lager Park stadium for the rally.”

Stein said that no complaints were received from business owners regarding misbehaviour as the patrons were well behaved.

She also raised concerns regarding the budget for bringing in the police and members of the defence force for security purposes.

“Where did that money come from? How much was spent on accommodation for the security officers?”

According to Steyn that money could have been spent constructively, like cleaning the city instead.

“Those security guards were reckless and put the lives of other road users at risk.

“Many people also had to drive throughout the night to attend the celebration due to a lack of accommodation.”

Fingers were also pointed at government departments for their role in the lack of service delivery from the Sol Plaatje Municipality.

“The president berated the Sol Plaatje Municipality for the poor roads and the lack of refuse removal. However, he did not say anything about the fact that government departments owed the municipality R800 million in arrears. Imagine what can be done with R800 million?

“The Sol Plaatje Municipality is on the brink of bankruptcy and the government is pointing fingers at everyone except themselves for not paying for services,” one resident pointed out.

“When schools reopen, everyone expects every school to have water and electricity, but how much does the Department of Education and the Department of Public Works owe the municipality,” he asked.

All attempts to get comment from the ANC in the Province were futile.