Fri Jun 23 20:57:08 CAT 2017

Mapungubwe Arts Festival hits wrong notes

2017-02-15 10:04:06.0 | Ngwako Malatji |

Limpopo MEC for sport, arts and culture Onicca Moloi has allegedly embarked on a campaign to terminate the multi-million rand Mapungubwe Arts Festival contract and to suspend officials who awarded it.

It is alleged that Moloi tried to lobby Limpopo premier Stan Mathabatha to support her plan but he fobbed her off.

Four sources alleged that Moloi wanted to terminate the contract after she complained of poor quality service from the organisers, Magula Promotions Company.

A senior government official, who did not want to be named, alleged that Moloi unilaterally introduced bush braai, culinary and children's festivals, which were not part of the three-year contract the organisers signed last year.

She also moved the gospel festival from December to the Easter holidays. The official alleged the MEC ignored advice from organisers and other officials not to organise the three festivals as they were not budgeted for and that their inclusion would constitute irregular expenditure.

They also advised her not to move the gospel festival to the Easter holidays as that would cost the department more money, but she ignored them.

Another official said departmental officials warned Moloi that moving the gospel festival to Easter holidays would be catastrophic because many people would go to Moria or celebrate the holidays in their respective churches, but that advice too was ignored.

The official also said Moloi also took her fight to provincial government spokesman Phuti Seloba when she ordered the officials not to include him in marketing the festival because he would steal her limelight.

A PEC member, who also did not want to be named, confirmed that Moloi planned to terminate the contract. Another PEC member said Moloi was interfering with the administrative sphere of her department and that it was against the law.

"I think she is also doing that to spite us because she doesn't even consult us. She is serving the interest of a particular faction within the PEC," said the member.

Moloi's spokesman Moloko Moloto refuted allegations that she wanted to terminate the contract. "The department has a three-year contract with Magula Promotions Company, which ends in the 2018/19 financial year.

"The MEC was still waiting for a report from the organisers which, as per the contract, they should have submitted before January 15," he said.

Moloto also disputed allegations that Moloi was interfering with the administrative duties of the officials.

"Indeed, the MEC suggested the inclusion of the children's festival, indigenous culinary festival and the Bush Braai festival to make it inclusive.

"Because of her suggestions, children from disadvantaged backgrounds and members of the minority groups took part in the programme, while the culinary festival featured our indigenous foods, which are an integral part of our cultures, exposure," he said.

The Mapungubwe Gospel Festival was moved to the Easter holidays in order to give it the attention it deserved, Moloto said.

He dismissed as laughable allegations that Moloi said Seloba was stealing her limelight. "In terms of the service level agreement, it is the service provider (Magula) who should market the event."

Seloba said: "I'm not aware of that but if she indeed said those things about me then that is embarrassing. Again the premier will not be involved in the matter. It is her prerogative to dismiss any official or terminate contracts of service providers."

Magula Promotions boss Joe Chakela declined to comment.

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