Durban - The eThekwini Municipality spent more than R15 million on celebrations to mark 20 years of democracy in the country, city officials revealed on Tuesday.

Addressing the municipality’s executive committee, Tozi Mthethwa, head of the city’s communications unit, said the initial estimate of cost for the celebrations had been R19.9m.

However, because the city had used internal resources, including its own staff, to organise celebrations, R15.3m had been spent, saving the city R5m.

The celebrations took place in wards across the city in April.

“If we engaged consultants, the costs would have been much higher,” Mthethwa said.

The money was spent on advertising and marketing, marquee and venue hire, meals, bikers, dancers and artists.

DA councillor Heinz de Boer said it was important to celebrate South Africa’s democracy milestone, but R15m was a lot of money to spend.

“We do recognise we must celebrate our hard-fought democracy, but we must contextualise what such an amount of money could have done. It could have built houses for people. We must, in the future, be cautious about spending such large amounts of money and not be excessive,” he said.

Mayor James Nxumalo said it was not about the amount of money that was spent, but giving communities who participated in the celebratory events something to be cheerful about.

He said many people, including his own family members, had been killed during the fight against apartheid, and the events were part of the celebrations of how far the country had come.

“Money is not important, what is important is that South Africa is free,” he said.

Daily News