Millions spent on failed festival.
ALLEGATIONS of procurement irregularities, shambolic organisation and the payment of millions to an artist that failed to show up have marred this year’s Mapungubwe Jazz Festival.
A year after blowing R3.9m of taxpayers’ money on the same concert, the Limpopo Department of Sports, Arts and Culture allegedly procured some of the goods and services directly from MEC Onicca Moloi’s office – in breach of the Public Finance Management Act.
The department allegedly facilitated the payment of R2.5 million to an agent that failed to secure American singer Anthony Hamilton as promised, leaving thousands of people who packed the Polokwane Show Grounds high and dry.
The money was allegedly paid by the National Lottery, one of the “sponsors” of the 2017 Mapungubwe Jazz Festival.
Hamilton was a last-minute replacement for Canadian born singer Tamia, who cancelled at the eleventh-hour weeks after Moloi unilaterally added her to the line-up.
According to four sources – two insiders, a government official and an ANC source – this year’s concert was shrouded in secrecy. The overall budget was not made public while Head of Department Mortimer Mannya was allegedly kept in the dark about aspects of procurement.
However, the department spent R12 million on the festival last year, with Moloi allegedly hijacking it and awarding tenders to hand-picked artists.
They said some artists rendered services and got paid without any contracts. Sources said shoddy arrangements resulted in Tamia, Hamilton and Nigerian singers Davido and D’Banj failing to attend the annual music festival despite their names having been used to woo fans. A ticket cost between R200 and R1 500 each.
Jazz legend Jonas Gwangwa and Afro-pop group Bongo Maffin were roped in as last-minute replacements for international artists.
Sources said Moloi negotiated with the National Lottery through a departmental official known only as Augustine. However, she failed to inform Mannya about money received from the Lottery.
“Even today, the HOD doesn’t know how much Lotto gave them. There were no contracts. All they were told is that this thing is being worked on from the MEC’s office,” said an insider.
“But the MEC’s office is not supposed to be handling these kinds of issues. It’s not proper because those artists are supposed to have contracts with the department, signed by the HOD.”
The source said when officials confronted Moloi about the procurement secrecy around international artists, she claimed they were being brought by the “sponsor”.
“There was the issue of Trace [Music Channel] which we didn’t agree with. It was being brought by the sponsor as part of the package when Tamia was still in the picture, but they wanted the department to also pay. That’s why it fell through because there was no engagement,” the source added.
“We asked why we were including her in our list if she was being funded by the sponsor, because if you do so, there must be a contract the department signed with her. You could see there were issues.”
Another insider said all was okay with the line up until Moloi suddenly announced Tamia’s inclusion at a media launch on October 5.
“We then heard later that there were problems and Tamia was no longer coming. We didn’t have a brief about the reasons. We heard Anthony was coming and the sponsor was responsible for it. It then transpired that he, too, was not coming,” the source said.
Even Jazz legend Caiphus Semenya “almost withdrew at the eleventh hour” due to disagreements over payments, he added.
“That’s when we were told that Caiphus wants full payment because that’s how they normally did his processes. That’s when the intervention was done so he could be there.”
Limpopo ANC Youth League secretary David “Che” Selane said he was aware of Mapungubwe shenanigans.
“We know the allegations that are being made, especially of the international artist that was supposed to come, who was booked for R2.5 million, and as a result that particular artist did not even come. We know for a fact of the many flaws in the administration and tenders relating to Mapungubwe,” he said.
Moloi’s spokesperson, Moloko Moloto, failed to respond to detailed questions sent. However, he had confirmed Hamilton & D’banj’s no-show on Saturday morning –hours before their scheduled performance.
“Regarding Anthony Hamilton, the Department could not concede to further financial demands that were made by the singer’s agent and as a result the deal fell through. Initially, we had contracted Nigerian singer Davido, through a South African artist agent, but due to the death of his best friend back in Nigeria, Davido requested to withdraw from the agreement and we accepted,” Moloto claimed.
“Through the assistance of the same agent, services of another Nigerian singer D’banj were sought. However, due to the delay on the part of the agent, D’banj and his crew could not get visas on time and for this reason they’ll not travel to South Africa.”