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ActionSA urges Ramaphosa to halt R28 million ‘vanity splurge’ on SA Music Awards

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In a strongly worded letter addressed to ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa, ActionSA has requested immediate intervention to stop the KZN Department of Economic Development, Tourism, and Environmental Affairs from proceeding with its planned R28 million “vanity splurge” on the South African Music Awards.

ActionSA’s appeal to President Cyril Ramaphosa seeks to stop KZN EDTEA’s R28 million splurge on the Samas, citing concerns over fiscal transparency and the diversion of funds from essential needs in the region. File picture: Matthews, Independent Media

IN A STRONGLY worded letter addressed to ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa, ActionSA has requested immediate intervention to stop the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development, Tourism, and Environmental Affairs (KZN EDTEA) from proceeding with its planned R28 million “vanity splurge” on the South African Music Awards (Samas).

The party contends that this move is not only a misuse of funds, but also raises concerns about transparency.

It has joined the Democratic Alliance in raising objections to the multimillion-rand spending.

The KZN EDTEA has, however, dismissed the outcry, arguing that the Samas will pump more than R350 million into the local economy and create jobs for unemployed people.

ActionSA, in its communication with Ramaphosa, has however raised alarm over the lack of an itemised budget with accurate and substantiated figures for the planned expenditure on the Samas.

The party argues that this raises suspicions about the motives behind such a significant allocation of resources.

“While ActionSA supports the hosting of the Sama Awards in eThekwini for its tourism spin-offs, we are opposed to the exorbitant reprioritisation of the provincial and municipal budget when there are more urgent needs that the people of KwaZulu-Natal need addressed,” Zwakele Mncwango, ActionSA KZN chairperson said.

The primary objection raised by ActionSA against KZN EDTEA’s plan is rooted in the department’s intention to divert funds from other programmes without proper fiscal justification and without compliance with the necessary approval process from the provincial legislature.

Mncwango said concerns have been raised regarding eThekwini Municipality mayor Mxolisi Kaunda’s commitment of an additional R25 million for hosting the Samas, done unilaterally and without seeking prior council approval.

“ActionSA is deeply concerned that the cash-strapped KZN provincial government and eThekwini Municipality would deem it appropriate to fund a R53 million vanity project rather than prioritise investment in the recovery efforts of a province still grappling with the devastating aftermath of the July 2021 riots and the April 2022 floods,” Mncwango said.

In a direct plea to Ramaphosa, Mncwango called on him to seize this opportunity to take a stand and advance his “renewal” agenda within the ruling party.

“As such we implore him to give effect to this request and intercept this irrational spend when KZN and eThekwini languish with decrepit infrastructure and anaemic economic opportunities which should be the department’s primary focus,” added Mnwango.

EDTEA spokesperson Ndabezinhle Sibiya said that R5 billion was injected into the provincial economy through the hosting of national and international events. This is after the KZN Convention Bureau under Tourism KwaZulu-Natal had successfully put forward bids to host such events.

“As we indicated, in August, the Auditor-General of SA presented the department with a Clean Audit Outcome Report for the financial year 2022/23. About nine of their entities also received clean audits. This report is a source of encouragement as we work harder to convert the province’s undoubted economic development potential for the benefit of the people. By and large, the latest AG report was a tribute to all categories of staff in the department and its entities for their unwavering efforts to use public funds wisely – create jobs and lift people out of abject poverty,” he said.

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