By Safiyia Stanfley, MPL, DA Provincial Spokesperson on Sport, Arts and Culture:
While the Democratic Alliance welcomes the investigation into the awarding of contracts to service providers handling the renovations at the Northern Cape Theatre, this should not further delay the opening of the facility, keeping the community further away from this cultural treasure.
The investigation was revealed in reply to a DA question in the National Assembly to Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa regarding contracts to service providers on site.
This is an acknowledgment that public money spent on this delayed project could be seriously over-inflated.
The investigation is an internal one by the National Department of Arts and Culture however there is no clarity on what the time-frames are.
The DA hopes the investigation does not affect the ultimate opening of the facility and that the investigative process is concluded speedily.
The refurbishment and renovations cost a whooping R28 million after the theatre was declared unsafe by the Labour department.
In February this year the Northern Cape Department of Sport, Arts and Culture (DSAC) gave assurance that the facility was due for completion in April, however the opening date was then moved to June 30, because the project was delayed without reason.
Then it emerged that an additional R6 million was needed to complete the stage lighting and sound equipment, due to incorrect budgeting from the start.
The DA has raised concerns with DSAC MEC Lebogang Motlhaping regarding the theatre and we await response from the legislature portfolio committee chairperson Maruping Lekwene on our request for an urgent oversight visit.
To date two letters have already been submitted to the office of the committee chairperson, failure from the legislature to arrange the oversight, the DA will be left with no option but to conduct our own visit.
The DA is saddened that delays to the opening night of the Northern Cape Theatre are keeping cultural excellence further and further from our people’s grasp.
We want to see young and old enjoying excellent theatre productions in the Northern Cape, and we want to see young performers building their talent.