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Limpopo officials land in hot water

By unknown | Dec 07, 2006 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Selby Makgotho

Limpopo is going to splurge R12million next week on entertaining thousands of music lovers and foreign artists during the annual Mapungubwe Arts Festival in Polokwane.

But the legislature's portfolio committee on sport, arts and culture yesterday criticised the expenditure, saying it would be "fruitless, wasteful and an embarrassing mess for the province".

The department of sport,arts and culture, which is overseeing the event, has insisted it will go ahead with the week-long festival.

This is despite the fact that there is no budget provision for the R12million needed to stage it.

The department was given only R2,9 million for the event by the provincial treasury.

As the date of the event drew closer and there were no additional funds in sight from other sources, the department asked the treasury for an additional R5million.

The department then solicited R4,5 million from its own directorates.

According to documents dated November 14, R2,5million was taken from sports development, R500000 from the office of the head of department, R500000 from the MEC's office, R500000 from the chief financial officer's office and R500000 from the libraries' section.

The week-long festival starts tomorrow and ends on December16.

It will feature international artists such as Kirk Franklin, Papa Wemba and Oliver Mtukudzi.

Yesterday the portfolio committee was fuming, saying top departmental officials would have to account for the mess and for the waste of money.

Machike Thobejane, acting chairman of the committee, told Sowetan that officials had told the committee that they had signed contracts with the artists who would perform at the festival and could not renege on them.

Thobejane said the committee discussed the festival with Premier Sello Moloto yesterday and registered its concern about bad planning and the mismanagement of departmental funds.

"They [the officials who authorised the expenditure on the festival] will be held accountable," Thobejane said.

Nancy Nyathikazi, head of the department of sports, arts and culture, said she had decided to take the money from the directorates after learning that they had not used all of the funds allocated to them.

"The R2,9 million we got from the treasury was insufficient. The festival will go ahead," she said.


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