Durban — Political parties in KwaZulu-Natal have welcomed the cancellation of the South African Music Awards (Samas) for the year 2023 which were supposed to be hosted in KZN next month.
This comes after ActionSA and the DA in KZN accused Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (Edtea) MEC Siboniso Duma of planning to spend R28 million on hosting the event while the organisers of the awards, the Recording Industry of South Africa (Risa), reportedly asked for only R8m.
The cancellation of the glamorous annual event was announced by Duma during a media briefing on Wednesday.
“As an executive authority, having consulted widely with the executive council and other stakeholders, I have advised the department to stop the hosting of the South African Music Awards this year,’’ said Duma.
Duma also said it was unfortunate that the process of ensuring transparency has been weaponised against the department to “scandalise” the national event.
“The R28m and other figures being thrown around are part of a campaign of disinformation. This is aimed at sowing confusion,’’ said Duma.
He added that the actual amount of money that had been confirmed by the Treasury and Edtea was around R20m before VAT.
“This amount of money is based on our last consultation as we have repeatedly stated that we have ongoing consultation,’’ he said.
Risa expressed their disappointment over Edtea’s withdrawal from hosting Sama29, adding that they had a three-year contract with Edtea and would be “looking at options”.
“We note with dismay that a prestigious, credible and apolitical national cultural asset has been characterised as a conduit for looting. Contrary to spurious allegations, our conversation with the City of eThekwini had been on infrastructure and logistics support and did not include any financial contribution,’’ said Risa.
KZN ActionSA chairperson Zwakele Mncwango said they were pleased with the withdrawal announcement as it had saved residents money.
“We welcome the announcement and are pleased that our intensive efforts have saved the residents of KZN R53m. So if the province has decided to withdraw instead of giving the organisers R8m, we can’t change that; however, we accept it. There was no way we could allow the government to proceed with this corruption,” he said.
Mncwango also emphasised that they were never against KZN hosting the Samas. The only issue they had was the escalated budget of R28m instead of R8m.
“As ActionSA there was never a time where we said we were against the province for hosting the Samas. The only objection we had is that the Samas organisers only requested R8m. But because the province wanted to loot the public funds, they escalated the budget to R28m,” said Mncwango.
On the negative impact this announcement might have on the local economy, Mncwango said although the events do bring economic spin, it is always a one-off thing. But when the money is used to fix infrastructure, it creates more economic spin-off because more investors and tourists are likely to visit well-maintained cities.
“Yes, we are concerned with the local economy, but does that mean we must allow corruption? So if the money is used wisely there will be no economic impact at all,” he said.
DA KZN spokesperson Heinz de Boer said they were also pleased with the announcement and said they were never against KZN hosting the Samas.
“We have never been against Edtea hosting Samas. Our problem was that they were having expensive gala dinners, overpaying influencers like R75 000 including expensive goody bags which have no contribution to the event itself,’’ said De Boer.
He also said although this would have a negative impact, that had been the case despite hosting so many events.
“If such events boost the economy, then why are we still seeing rising rates of unemployment while hosting so many events? It is not the end of KZN. If he was serious on uplifting the economy he was going to host Samas in rural arrears like uMkhanyakude,’’ said De Boer.
He added that he had no doubt that their noise which brought attention to the matter played a huge role in cancelling the hosting of Samas. He also slammed Duma for not respecting the portfolio committee and said that he couldn’t just do as he pleased.
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