Tom Stokes, MPP
Member of the Democratic Alliance Caucus in the KZN Legislature
A RESPONSE to parliamentary questions by the Democratic Alliance confirms that KwaZulu-Natal’s Department of Economic Development and Tourism (ECOD) did not spend R1.9 million on a Golf Day – instead the department spent R1.6 million on a Conference and Gala Dinner and paid R300 000 to host the Golf Day.
The figures, revealed by KZN ECOD MEC, Mike Mabuyakhulu, come after an earlier claim by the DA that the department had spent R1.9 million on the uMyezane Golf Day. The allegation was vigorously denied by the MEC despite the figure forming part of a previous parliamentary reply to the DA around the department’s functions spend during the 2011/2012 financial year. In a bid to gain clarity, the DA submitted a further question to the MEC. His latest response, dated 3 May 2012, confirms that R1.9 million was spent on three different functions – the uMyezane Golf Day, the uMyezane B-BBEE Conference and the uMyezane Gala Dinner.
The spending of R1.9 million on a Golf Day, Conference and Gala Dinner is simply incomprehensible and requires an explanation from the MEC. The DA will be calling for a full breakdown of costs for all three functions and for the estimated benefits as a result of the expenditure. We will also ensure that the matter is tabled for discussion at the next ECOD portfolio committee meeting along with a report on the remaining R30 million spent by the department on functions and the cost/benefits thereof.
According to the MEC’s latest response, the uMyezane functions are held to ensure that “those who are supposed to drive and benefit from the economic transformation programme are kept abreast of the latest developments, become aware of opportunities and are able to interact and interface with stakeholders and roleplayers within the broader community and, in particular around issues of Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment”. The MEC describes the Golf Day as “platform for both small and big enterprises to network and possibly conclude business deals”. No business person would dispute the value of networking but given that the average spend on a corporate Golf Day is about R50 000, this was clearly no ordinary event.
This is money from the public purse and the MEC must be held accountable for any wasteful and exorbitant expenditure.