Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille File photo: Bertram Malgas

Cape Town - Opposition parties in the city council are not letting up on demanding more accountability from the DA for the R28 million in losses suffered by the City of Cape Town as a result of the failed Cape Town Cup last year.

They say an apology from mayor Patricia de Lille does not suffice.

During a discussion on the city’s financial status at a finance portfolio committee meeting on Monday, opposition parties wanted to know how the city was compensating for the losses incurred as a result of the poor ticket sales for the two-day event last July.

The ANC’s Peter Gabriel maintained that the financial status reports before the committee did not reflect the losses and wanted to know whether the debt had been written off.

“How does the city manage these situations? When you have a loss, it must be reflected somewhere,” he said. “The DA must be held accountable for having lost the money.”

A close-out report in January revealed that the city had spent more than R30m to organise the event, which pitted Ajax Cape Town and SuperSport United against Portuguese club Sporting Lisbon and English Premiership side Crystal Palace, but earned only R2m from the 22 000 tickets sold.

The city council’s executive director for tourism, events and marketing, Anton Groenewald, quit his job in the wake of the debacle.

The Cape Muslim Congress’s Yagyah Adams wanted to know whether the city’s finance officials exercised a level of oversight over what he called “stupid decisions” by the council. “Who makes the decision about loss-making activities? No one takes responsibility,” he said.

The city’s director of budgets, Johan Steyl, said the over-expenditure had been reported “consistently” in the city’s budget documents to date and, given that the city had already incurred the expenditure, its only other choice was to compensate for the losses from another revenue source.

He did not say where the money had been taken from to plug the hole.

Finance portfolio chairman Stuart Diamond said the council was responsible for the decision-making in this matter, but opposition parties found this an unacceptable answer.

Adams said he and the Freedom Front Plus’s André Fourie had warned, prior to the decision, about the losses the city would probably suffer as a result of hosting the tournament.

Diamond eventually conceded that the buck stopped with the DA majority in the council, but said an investigation was still under way.

He referred councillors to the mayor for any further clarity on the matter.

The committee’s deputy chairman, Abraham Griesel, said any debts the city was incurring as a result of the Cape Town Stadium should be blamed on the national government for insisting a stadium be built for the 2010 World Cup.

“If we didn’t have that stadium, we would not have the huge losses we have every year.”

In the absence of a long-term lessee, the stadium costs ratepayers about R40m in annual losses.

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Cape Argus