DA questions feasibility of cultural hub’s location

James Masango MPL

Provincial Chief Whip of the Official Opposition

The Mpumalanga cultural hub set to be established in White River near Nelspruit is a welcome boost to the local economy, but the DA questions government’s decision to base yet another provincial initiative in or near the capital city.

The cultural hub falls under the auspices of the Department of Culture, Sport and Recreation (DCSR), and is expected to contribute to the development of various performing arts genres such as theatre, dance, music, crafts and drama. It will also include a film office to promote the development of a film industry, and be expected to promote the artistic expressions of Mpumalanga’s diverse history and heritage.

After premier David Mabuza announced the establishment of this hub in 2011, the Department of Economic Development was tasked to establish a business plan, costing the province R2 million, and is yet to see the light of day. DCSR’s 2013/14 Annual Performance Plan shows how a further R50,5 million was allocated towards preparation and construction of the hub – without any evidence of land purchases, feasibility studies or environmental impact studies.

Furthermore, the department’s 2013/14 budget shows that the entire project would cost the province a staggering R90,95 million, and the DA cannot fathom how this is almost R8 million more than a much larger in scale project such as the High Altitude Training Centre in Belfast, at a cost of R83 million.

Giving Mpumalanga’s history of corruption, nepotism and shady procurement processes on capital projects, the DA is highly sceptical of the decision to base the cultural hub in Mbombela, and the costs associated with it.

To this end, we have submitted parliamentary questions for oral reply to both premier Mabuza and MEC for culture, sport and recreation, Sibongile Manana to clear the air over the cultural hub. We ask specifically for the reasons behind the decision to base the hub in Mbombela, the cost thereof and whether all necessary due processes had been followed.

Mpumalanga does not need a repeat of allegations of corruption and nepotism as it did during the construction of the Mbombela Stadium for the Soccer World Cup.

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