So Nelspruit in Mpumalanga (South Africa, for you foreigners out there) has just spent R1.45M ($207 000) on a party to celebrate the sod-turning of their new 2010 World Cup stadium. This worked out at a whopping R 13 607 ($1 944) a person. Ordinary “community” members, who were also invited to a day of free food and booze, got plates of pap and meat.
This means that the 71 Mbombela councillors, their 276 VIP guests and 60 bodyguards must have really been spoiled. They were treated to much-fancier food and drink in special air-conditioned VIP tents, and invited to a closed “after party”.
This is taxpayers and ratepayers money. We have serious housing and service delivery backlogs. In fact the “community” were out on the streets last week protesting against lack of service delivery. So what do we do? Give them free food and booze for a day and hope the problem will go away.
The plates of “pap and meat” were supplied by the caterers at R150 /plate. The same food is available in Nelspruit at about R15 /plate. No prizes for guessing if the caterers were related in some way to a councillor or two.
Also, no matter how much I eat or drink, I would have difficulty in running up a tab of R13 607, unless I drank litres of single malt, and ate plates of beluga caviar. Would any of these councillors have thrown such an extravagant party if they were footing the bill? Of course not, but somebody else is paying, so who cares what it costs.
Parliament is not exactly setting a good example. Each ministry appears to be trying to out-do each other at their official annual parties, so what do you expect the municipalities to do.
Conferences, also appear to be an opportunity to raid the coffers, and eat and drink till you fall over. I have first hand experience of conference venues that host local government “conferences”. The food and booze tabs must be phenomenal. These people eat and drink like they have been starved for years. (Mmm, maybe they have?) Looking at the size of them this is hard to believe. In the rural areas these folk are known as “Amabenzi” or “roll-necks” because the higher their positions in government, the more rolls of fat they have at the back of their necks.
Port Elizabeth official Beza Ntshona is standing trial on a charge of fraud relating to fictitious invoices for a conference held in 2004. Ntshona allegedly informed the municipal manager that he had been advised to obtain three quotations, which he had done. He enclosed quotations from Imbizo Events, Umzontsundu Events and Events Hire.
The latter two companies did not exist. Guess who had an interest in the former?
Imbizo issued an invoice for R247 148 for a public address system, audio visual equipment and conference clothing. The municipality allegedly bought 300 golf shirts costing R560 each and 300 bags costing R216 each.
What in heavens name do you need to give a free golf shirt and bag to every delegate to a conference for? Surely they are there to discuss important municipal business, or learn something? Have we gone mad in the feeding trough? Would these delegates have spent R560 on a golf shirt, or R260 on a bag, if this was their own money? The answer, once again is NO !!!!
Root out this corruption, and let’s get back to work, for heavens sake.