New twist in Durban ICC’s R5 million debacle

Durban ICC. | Archive

Durban ICC. | Archive

Published Oct 31, 2023


Durban — There is a new twist in the Durban International Convention Centre’s R5 million saga after conflicting responses by the ANC Women’s League national leadership, the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal and the eThekwini ANC regional leadership over who paid for the provincial ANCWL elective conference.

ANC Women’s League national secretary Nokuthula Nqaba said that as per the report presented to the league’s national executive committee by the then provincial task team leadership which organised the conference, the venue was initially booked and paid for upfront by the KwaZulu-Natal ANC for the provincial ANC Youth League elective conference, which was cancelled at the 11th hour.

She said the ANC in the province then asked the women’s league to use the venue since it was ready to hold its elective conference.

Nqaba said she had no knowledge of the arrangement with eThekwini municipality to pay for the venue.

However, ANC provincial spokesperson Mafika Mndebele told the Daily News on Monday that the conference was paid for by the ANC in eThekwini. This response seemed to clash with that of the national women’s league.

ANCYL co-ordinator in KwaZulu-Natal Mqondisi Duma confirmed that as per the information given to him by the team dealing with logistics, the venue was already secured and paid for when their conference was cancelled. This response appeared to be in conflict with Mndebele’s.

ANC eThekwini regional spokesperson Mlondi Mkhize initially appeared not to be aware of the payment, but after consultation, he reverted back to confirm that the ANC provincial leadership approached the region to assist with the payment.

He said since the region was brought on board after the conference had sat, the region only paid 60% of the money. This means the conference was not paid for upfront, as was the norm for private entities holding events at the ICC.

The region’s response appeared to clash with both the national women’s league and provincial leadership’s responses.

The conference – marred by drama and allegations of vote rigging – was held at the ICC from August 4-6.

It later emerged that the venue was to be paid for by the eThekwini Municipality through a memorandum of understanding. This, according to ActionSA leader Zwakele Mncwango, was signed by one of the City’s deputy managers, Sipho Cele, committing that the City would pay. The bill was said to be close to R5m.

In a statement issued by eThekwini mayor Mxolisi Kaunda, at that time, he denied that the City committed to pay for the conference venue, challenging ActionSA to provide proof.

The ICC also issued a statement denying any wrongdoing but had not yet responded to questions sent by the paper last week.

ActionSA has filed a motion against the board to be dissolved following its failure to open criminal charges within seven days.

The motion will be debated and voted on today (Tuesday).

The ICC is an entity of the eThekwini Municipality and its board is appointed by the council.

A few weeks ago, ActionSA and various ratepayer associations picketed outside the ICC and gave the board an ultimatum to either comply within seven days to their demand or risk being removed through a vote of no confidence.

Mncwango said he went ahead with the motion after the entity’s leadership ignored the seven-day deadline which lapsed on Thursday. He accused the board of being arrogant and urged all the parties in the council to support the motion.

“I urge all the parties to support our motion. We need to get to the bottom of this.

“There is no doubt that the ANC Women’s League conference took place at the ICC, but we do not know whether the party paid or whether it would pay at all for using this public entity.

“We know there was a memorandum of understanding where the City committed to pay for the event – which we are against – but in the end, we need the ICC to be paid for the venue that was used. The ANC Women’s League cannot use the public entity’s venue for free,” said Mncwango.

Reacting to the ANC’s regional spokesperson’s response that it had paid for the venue, Mncwango said it was lies. He said he had information that the ANC never paid, adding that the motion would continue today (Monday) as planned.

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