Home South African Hot in the kitchen: Sisulu probes ministerial cook-off

Hot in the kitchen: Sisulu probes ministerial cook-off

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Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has revealed that two more investigations are to be instituted into her predecessor’s two-hour ministerial cook-off with media personality Somizi Mhlongo.

Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu. Picture: Sibonelo Ngcobo/ANA

TOURISM Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has revealed that two more investigations are to be instituted into her predecessor’s two-hour ministerial cook-off with media personality Somizi Mhlongo.

This emerged after DA MP Hannah Shameema Winkler wrote to Sisulu asking for details on the progress into irregular expenditure, non-compliance with supply chain processes and a lack of oversight as indicated by the auditor-general in the 2020/21 financial year.

Winkler also enquired about the consequence management that had been implemented for those identified as responsible for the irregular expenditure.

In May 2021, former tourism minister Mmamoloko Kubayi held a ministerial cook-off event ahead of the department’s budget vote.

Independent Media reported soon after the event that it was dubbed as showcasing the work of innovative entrepreneurial ventures critical in growing and sustaining the hospitality industry.

It was held at The Hang Awt 1632 restaurant in Endayini in Tembisa, Gauteng. The restaurant was reportedly owned by entrepreneur and DJ Shimza, whose real name is Ashley Raphala.

The event cost R150,000, which covered the venue and mobile kitchen hire, event staffing, safety and event compliance requirements, the stage, sound system, food supplies, exhibition set-up, publicity including live-streaming of activities and sound system.

In her written reply, Sisulu said the department’s internal audit unit investigated the irregular expenditure associated with the pre-budget vote cook-off event.

“The first part of the investigation was concluded around October 2021, however, the report was inconclusive as the payment was not yet effected. The report is now concluded and has recommended that a further investigation involving external parties must be conducted as internal audit does not deal with investigation of external parties,” she said.

Sisulu also said the terms of reference for the next stage of the investigation have been developed.

The minister revealed that she has received a letter from the Public Service Commission, which is also investigating the matter after a complaint was received. “The department is co-operating with the investigation process and the outcome of this process is awaited,” she said.

When Kubayi was quizzed in parliamentary questions after the event sparked a media storm, she insisted that Mhlongo did not benefit from the cook-off event.

“It is also important to state that there was no payment made to Mr Somizi Mhlongo and the department notes with concern the general public perception that he benefited from the event, which is not the case,” she said at the time.

“The ministerial cock-off was part of the pre-Tourism Budget Vote departmental awareness activities, showcasing the work of the department in terms of the participation of graduate chefs from its training programmes as well as promoting a culture of eating out, particularly at township establishments.”

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