Tourism Minister Kubayi-Ngubane paid R150 000 to cook-off with Somizi Mhlongo-Motaung
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Johannesburg - Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane paid R150 000 for the two-hour cook-off with media personality Somizi Mhlongo-Motaung a few weeks ago.
The event, which was billed as a showcase of the skills, and innovative entrepreneurial ventures critical in growing and sustaining the hospitality industry, was held at The Hang Awt 1632 restaurant in Endayini in Tembisa, Gauteng.
The Hang Awt restaurant is owned by entrepreneur and DJ Shimza, whose real name is Ashley Raphala.
Kubayi-Ngubane said the event cost R150 000, which covered the venue, mobile kitchen hire, event staffing, safety and event compliance requirements, the stage, sound system, food supplies, exhibition set-up, and publicity including live-streaming of activities.
However, she denied Mhlongo benefited from the cook-off.
“It is also important to state that there was no payment made to Somizi Mhlongo and the department notes with concern the general public perception that he benefited from the event, which is not the case,” said Kubayi-Ngubane.
She revealed details of the cook-off in a parliamentary reply to DA MP Hlanganani Gumbi, who demanded answers on the cook-off’s purpose on May 17 ahead of her department’s budget vote.
Kubayi-Ngubane said the ministerial cook-off was part of the pre-tourism budget vote departmental awareness activities, showcasing the department’s work in terms of the participation of graduate chefs from its training programmes as well as promoting a culture of eating out, particularly at township establishments.
According to Kubayi-Ngubane, the event was funded through money obtained from her department’s communications chief directorate from its 2021/22 medium term expenditure framework allocation.
She defended the cook-off, saying the Tourism Act of 2014 provided for development and promotion of tourism in the country.
The media alert announcing the event indicated it would feature exhibitions by young entrepreneurs who were new entrants in the hospitality business and those who have initiated successful businesses within their communities, following the completions of the skills development programmes implemented by the department.
In the aftermath of the announcement of the cook-off, there was an outcry over DJ Shimza allegedly benefiting from political connections as his long-time girlfriend is reportedly Athi Geleba, head of digital communications in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s office.
DJ Shimza told a Sunday newspaper Geleba had no interest in any of his businesses or any relationship in the Tourism Department and his establishment had never received any business or funding from government before the event.
Ramaphosa this week appointed Kubayi-Ngubane as acting health minister after he placed the incumbent Dr Zweli Mkhize on special leave.
Mkhize has been implicated in a dodgy R150 million contract awarded to Digital Vibes, a company controlled by his close associates Tahera Mather and Naadhira Mitha.