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Six weeks to plan city festival

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With six weeks left to organise the Diamonds and Dorings Music Festival, which was placed back on the calendar this week, it is not yet known how much it will cost to host the event.

Local business owners also want to benefit from the Diamonds and Dorings Festival. Picture: Soraya Crowie

WITH six weeks left to organise the Diamonds and Dorings Music Festival, which was placed back on the calendar this week, it is not yet known how much it will cost to host the event.

Potential bidders estimated that the tender was worth around R10 million.

The festival was last held in 2019 while the Sol Plaatje Municipality had not budgeted for the event this year due to financial constraints.

A special council meeting was held earlier this week to set in motion a request from the Office of the Premier to allow the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture to host and fund the event this year.

The HOD for the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture, Oupa Phiri, indicated that while cost containments were still in place, it would not affect this “flagship event” that would be held at Langley Pleasure Resort over the Easter weekend.

“The funds must be used.”

He added that a service provider would be appointed with the capacity to organise the event within the given time frame.

Despite assurances from Sol Plaatje executive mayor Kagisho Sonyoni that a service provider had not been appointed yet, local businesses, who stormed into the meeting following a media briefing that was held on Wednesday, believed that they had already been sidelined.

“A service provider must surely have been appointed. The same recycled service providers are used every time. How is it possible to secure top-calibre artists who are booked up months in advance and arrange an event that will require a lot of organisation and planning, in such a short time?” they asked.

“Are they going to bring in Ringo and Saartjie to perform? It will take at least a week to advertise the tender to appoint and select a service provider.”

Some business owners called for the festival to be postponed or called off.

“Why the hurry? We have waited four years for it to happen and we also want an opportunity. Some service providers feel entitled to be given the tender. It must stop.”

Local business owners, who also want a slice of the Diamonds and Dorings tender, were prevented from entering a meeting at the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture on Wednesday. Picture: Soraya Crowie

Opposition parties said the decision was “steam rolled” through and no objections were allowed.

DA councillor Elize Niemann believed the funds could have been better used in addressing a multitude of service delivery issues.

“No notice was given of what the meeting was about, while details about the festival were not forthcoming. The last time the event was held was in 2019 and it was put on hold because of cost containment,” said Niemann.

She pointed out that while the pleasure resort was the property of the municipality, it would not derive any income from the proceeds of ticket sales or entry fees.

FF+ councillor Johan Smit questioned what benefits would emanate for Sol Plaatje Municipality and who would be responsible for any damage to property.

“The municipality will have to provide the lifeguards and security and clean up the venue. Who will be held responsible in the event of a drowning or loss of life?”

ACDP councillor Roddy Loff pointed out that student aid and social grants were being cut at the expense of a “nice to have” festival in the stark reality of cost containments imposed by National Treasury.

“It is careless to entertain such luxuries when people are suffering and do not have food on the table and patients have to go without medication. The legal implications were not considered.”

Sol Plaatje Service Delivery Forum councillor Justine Esau questioned the urgency of holding the event this year, shortly before the national general elections.

“How do we know that some of the money will not be redirected towards the elections?

“It is suspicious that the item was not discussed in the committees before it was brought to council. Although they said the municipality will not have any financial implications, workers will be expected to work overtime over public holidays for the logistic arrangements.”

The DA’s premier candidate, Isak Fritz, pointed out that a “politically connected” director of a company previously appointed to organise the event was identified by the Public Protector of benefiting from the procurement of personal protective equipment deals during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Residents who know that Kimberley still has no water after billions were pledged by the provincial government can make their own calculations on how much economic development will come from this festival.”

He indicated that the misuse of public funds and public assets “to promote political patronage” did not equate to economic growth.

Sol Plaatje executive mayor Kagisho Sonyoni, the MEC for the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture, Desery Fienies, the HOD for the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture, Oupa Phiri, and the spokesperson for the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture, Conrad Fortune. Picture: Sandi Kwon Hoo

The MEC for the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture, Desery Fienies, stated that the event would be funded through the national flagship budget.

“The cost of the event has not been specified yet. The department will be responsible for the payment of all costs associated with hosting the 2024 edition of the festival and transparent procurement of all goods and services.

“The department will ensure that due diligence was followed in the procurement processes to ensure the successful roll-out of this event.”

She added that this entertainment event had not taken place due to the Covid-19 pandemic, cost containment and budgetary constraints.

“The rights to hold any future versions of the festival remain that of Sol Plaatje Municipality.”

Fienies stated that the festival serves to build social cohesion and unite cultural diversity.

“Furthermore, it is also a boost for the living arts and events tourism. Together with the municipality, we will be engaging organised business as we view this as an exciting opportunity to witness an economic injection in the local economy.”

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