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Durban - A row has erupted among Durban councillors over the need for an eight-man delegation to visit London later this year to launch a one-minute promotional video of Durban.
Councillors argued that the cost of R350 000 for the trip could be reduced if fewer delegates attended the screeding of the video, which will be aired on the National Geographic channel.
The delegation will include three senior officials - including mayor James Nxumalo and the head of Durban Tourism, Philip Sithole - two politicians and three members of the Community Tou-rism Organisations (CTOs).
The one-minute vignette on eThekwini is part of a multimillion -rand marketing campaign that Durban Tourism embarked on with the National Geographic TV channel, and forms part of the Three Cities Alliance tourism marketing agreement with Johannesburg and Cape Town.
eThekwini municipality’s deputy mayor, Nomvuzo Shabalala, on Thursdday defended the decision, saying it was necessary.
During a full council meeting on Wednesday, the DA had questioned whether the chairmen of the Inanda, uMlazi and Clermont CTOs had been invited for the launch in August, saying the latter two had not yet even set up offices.
Inanda, he said, only had a small tourism office.
The question appeared to have irked the ANC-led council, and Shabalala said she was not surprised the DA had asked it. She said the organisations would have offices soon, although she did not say when.
“We have a mission to represent ourselves globally. International media will be present at that launch. It is critical that we market ourselves and make it viable,” she said.”
When it was pointed out that two of the CTO representatives were employed by the city, which meant their going would be a conflict of interest, the deputy mayor said: “The three CTO representatives will be chosen by their own organisations and we will not dictate who goes.”
ANC councillor, Stanley Xulu, lashed out at the DA for questioning the trip.
“It is just part of apartheid,” he charged. “They (the DA) must not come here and think that they can say whatever they want. They must then not go get votes from the people they undermine
The DA said it was offended by the response to the question.
Its councillor Nicole Graham said while the party supported the initiative, it did not see the need for eight people to go on the trip.
“When it comes to sending officials and politicians overseas, we are often wasteful with ratepayers’ money,” she said.
“The mayor and head of Durban Tourism are able to represent our city and do not need any further accompaniment. The delegation will cost triple what it should.”
“We cannot send these members overseas to invite people to their areas and then be unable to properly host them,” she said.
“We would support this initiative if the CTOs were up and running, and should rather spend this money on ensuring this. It seems Durban Tourism has put the cart before the horse.”
The IFP also slammed the move saying it did not see why the chairmen of CTOs and politicians had to be part of the delegation.
“How do we as the city justify sending this bloated delegation to watch just a one minute video when there are families out there who could benefit from this R350 000 that is going to be spent on the trip?” said IFP caucus leader, Mdu Nkosi.
The MF said it had no problem with the number of people who would form part of the delegation.
“This would enhance economic development and tourism and, therefore, it is important that officials who specialise in this field (tourism) also go there,” said councillor Patrick Pillay.