Pretoria - A row has erupted over the appointment of a former City of Tshwane senior official to a top tourism job in Limpopo.
Certain former colleagues of Nomasonto Ndlovu in the City of Tshwane are outraged at her appointment as the new head of Limpopo Tourism Agency.
They have pointed to her alleged role in the City’s multimillion-rand flop, the TribeOne Dinokeng Music Festival in 2014. Ndlovu was strategic director of communications, marketing and events in Tshwane.
She left the City this year amid ongoing investigations into allegations that millions misused in preparation for the three-day music concert, which had to be cancelled at the 11th hour. It was due to take place in an open land outside Cullinan.
The City had already paid a non-refundable R10 million to US hip-hop artist Nicki Minaj to perform at the event. Another R40m had already been spent on infrastructure at the 440ha of land.
Other controversial projects which flopped dismally and believed to have been undertaken under her watch included the black and green litter bins on street light poles. They were intended for cigarette butts and chewing gum and expected to generate money for the City through advertising.
In addition, ahead of the municipal elections last year,
her department was accused of making City-owned billboards available for ANC advertisements free of charge. The EFF laid charges against the department and mayor at the time, Kgosientso Ramokgopa.
However, the Limpopo Tourism Agency said Ndlovu had not been found guilty of any wrongdoing.
Chairperson Andrew Dipela said a background check was done on Ndlovu, and they were aware of allegations levelled against her.
He said that could not have stopped her appointment because she had not been fingered in criminal activities.
“The board had checked with the police if there had been a criminal case laid against her, but there was nothing. If the police have got nothing on her; what should we do?”
Her announcement as the new head of the tourism agency in Limpopo this week elicited mixed reactions.
Also read: R10m non-refundable for Nicki Minaj
Former mayoral spokesperson under the ANC rule, Blessing Manale, now executive head of strategic interest groups in the City, wrote on Facebook “Limpopo Tourism appointed the most controversial CEO in its history. She was the chief organiser of the aborted Nicki Minaj Dinokeng Festival in Tshwane.”
Tshepo Tshinamelangwena Netshidzati commented: “Three months down the line, Limpopo Tourism will never be the same. The only place to visit will be Moria, the rest will be history.”
Tshwane ANC Youth League regional chairperson and City councillor Lesego Makhubela told the Pretoria News that Limpopo had made a bad appointment.
He said they were still looking for answers regarding how millions were squandered into the music festival. “What happened to TribeOne concert? She still has a lot of things to explain, but that one stands out,” Makhubela said.
He said he did not know whether the tourism agency conducted background checks on Ndlovu or not before her appointment.
Makhubela said it was alleged that Ndlovu’s husband was involved in one of the projects in TribeOne Festival.
Despite that, former deputy City manager Lindiwe Kwele was placed to manage the project, Makhubela said it was Ndlovu who was actually running the show.
Regional ANC spokesperson Teboho Joala said the ANC-led municipality was at an advanced stage to recover the money wasted on the festival before it lost power in the 2016 municipal elections.
“There were efforts made to recover the money and the last time I checked, the ANC was at an advanced stage to recover the money,” he said. Limpopo Tourism Agency hailed Ndlovu for “her vision and extensive experience in the field of marketing”.
“It is believed that Ndlovu’s understanding of her role and functions will be central at the entity to assist the board to fulfil its mandate of marketing the province as a destination of choice,” it said.
Dipela said in addition to checking with the police, the board even talked to people she put as references on her CV. It was alleged on social media that Ndlovu would take unnecessary trips abroad at the expense of taxpayers’ money.
Dipela said: “I saw some of the things on Facebook, like the issues of her travelling overseas. The agency has strong processes in place. Before a person can travel overseas, the chairperson of the board must sign for the trip.”
According to Dipela, the board had put Ndlovu on probation and her performance would be closely monitored. “We have taken this agency from disclaimer and qualified audit to an unqualified audit. We make our people account,” he said.
He said the agency didn’t want to be drawn into Tshwane’s political battles. “If Tshwane didn’t act against her why should we be expected to act?”