Mapungubwe Arts Festival service provider threatens MEC with legal action.
A SERVICE provider has threatened to take the Limpopo Department of Sports, Arts and Culture to court for allegedly breaching a contract and failing to pay him for services rendered at the annual Mapungubwe Arts Festival in 2016.
Magula Promotions Executive Director Joe Chakela told African Times this week that he sought damages after MEC Onicca Moloi allegedly cancelled his contract to manage the festival and meddled in procurement matters.
The startling revelations come after a two-year deadlock between the two parties. Chakela accused the department of using tricks to avoid settling the matter.
“The result is that we were not even paid and as we speak our lawyers are still busy with it so that we can go to court. We have not yet gone to court because as you know court processes are a very long process.
“We started serving them with summons in June last year and they responded by saying that we are the ones that owe them and not the other way around,” Chakela said.
“So they have to respond back with documents proving that we owe them. I believe that she did not want us to do the event but actually wanted her own people to do it. Right now all of the matters are in the hands of our lawyers.”
The company compiled a report in 2016 detailing how Moloi had allegedly exhausted the budget allocations after taking office by unilaterally changing agreed upon line-ups and replacing artists with hand-picked ones.
“Things were running well up until the appointment of Onicca as MEC, that was when things started going wrong. She came with her own things and started changing things by increasing the event and the budget. A lot of people were scared to talk to her because they have seen that it was going to cause trouble,” said Chakela.
“The new MEC amended the program that was agreed to between Magula Promotions and the Department. The following events were removed, namely: Gospel (moved to Easter Weekend) and Pre-Party Festival/Battle of the DJs. The new MEC added the following events: Indigenous Culinary Food Showcase, Children’s Festival, Traditional Court, Pop-Up Gym, Bush Braai and Sapayopa Bikers Rally.”
The report further revealed that Moloi unilaterally changed the line-up of the main Jazz Festival, despite the organisers having signed contracts and paid the deposits for the entire headline acts.
Chakela said the move derailed the entire project and put it in jeopardy. As things were set to get underway to launch the Festival in November of that year, Moloi allegedly hit the organisers with yet another curveball.
“Arrangements were made for a media launch on 1 November 2016 and we were told that the MEC has taken a decision to launch all the events mentioned above including the Culinary Food Festival, Children’s Festival, Traditional Court Festival and Bush Braai Festival and that she will source sponsorship herself as Magula Promotions failed dismally to raise funds for the Festival.
“We received an SMS message from Chief of Staff of the MEC’s Office, Mr Thabo Sephuma, requesting us to write them a letter indicating that we have failed to raise sponsorship. We did not write the letter,” he said.
Chakela added that Moloi instructed the General Manager, Constance Pheeha to sit with the CFO and Mr Reggy Zikalala of Magula Promotions to go through the budget line by line and present to her the actual costs of all the events that were set to be staged in December.
He said the process took a lot of time and effort but on November 25 a budget of R16 225 494-10 was arrived at which indicated that if all events were to be staged as per the instruction of the MEC, there would be a shortfall of R6 225 494-10.
That, however, did not seem to concern Moloi. She allegedly went on to take full control of the festival and started ordering Magula Promotions to appoint suppliers she had hand-picked.
“At this stage, all corporate governance protocols had collapsed and the MEC took over the running of the event. We were communicated to directly from the MEC’s Office either by herself or her Chief of Staff.”
Moloi’s spokesperson Moloko Moloto declined to comment but instead accused African Times of running a propagandistic campaign against Moloi: “We’re not going to legitimize your propagandistic campaign with a response,” he said.