I recently received an e-mail containing a pdf attachment signed by Democratic Alliance Councillor, Terry Herbst, who is based in Port Elizabeth (Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality). My first thoughts were that the letter may be a hoax, but apparently it is not. The message accompanying the attachment said: “If it wasn't so serious it'd be hilarious!” -- Well I cannot argue with that statement!
March 1, 2011
Dr M E Chabula-Nxiweni
The Office of the Executive Director : Public Health
NELSON MANDELA METRO MUNICIPALITY
Dear Dr Chabula-Nxiweni
RATEPAYERS TO PAY FOR “CLEANSING CEREMONY” TO STOP ROAD DEATHS?
According to documentation in my possession, Metro ratepayers will be asked to foot a R28,000 bill for a traditional “cleansing ceremony” suggested by songomas to reduce accidents and deaths on the M17 road to Motherwell.
The budget for this event, which will be met from the Executive Mayor’s Discretionary Fund, includes R31,500 for cows, sheep and goats to be slaughtered, and close on R14,000 for gin, brandy and beer,
The M17, which is a Provincial road, was never officially opened after being completed in 1988. Since then, 69 people have died and 1,390 were injured on the road I am informed that sangomas told a meeting of ANC politicians and municipal officials that ancestors living under the Swartkops River were angry at the road carnage, and that a traditional cleansing ceremony would help to improve the situation.
While it goes without saying that South Africa’s many cultural beliefs must always be respected, Metro ratepayers should not have to pay for this jamboree, more especially at a time when the local authority is facing a cash crisis of such major proportions that Bhisho has offered to bail the Metro out financially.
An official document shows that the first phase of the ceremony --- which is being driven by Public Health chairperson Councillor Noluthando Mapu --- was held last week at a cost of R6,670. This included R2,000 for a video of the proceedings; brandy (R110); gin (R80); tobacco (R100); beads (R1,600); two knobkerries (R100); snuff, matches, candles, wood, traditional medicines, and vegetables.
Friday’s ceremony, it seems, is going to be on a much grander scale.
Two tents, each seating 500 people --- who will be transported by bus at a cost of R4,000 --- will be erected at a cost of R30,000; a PA system will cost R4,500; security will cost R12,000; and crockery will be hired for R2,000; and plastic containers for food will cost R4,000.
The cost for this unprecedented event has been budgeted at R122,840.
The mind boggles that such expenditure of public money can be considered while the Metro struggles to make ends meet, particularly as there is no guarantee that the planned event will succeed in curbing deaths on our roads.
Even if the budget is taken from the Executive Mayor’s discretionary fund, it remains public money which cannot be abused and which must be fully accounted for.
One needs to seriously query the spending of more than R10,000 on liquor for an event of this nature, and why should ratepayers provide tobacco, snuff and matches for those in apparent contact with their ancestors?
I would suggest that the immediate cancellation of Friday’s ceremony would be in the best interests of all concerned, and that the money would be better spent eradicating the bucket system at Matthew’s Ground, which adjoins the M17.
I await your comments with considerable interest.
Yours in accountability and transparency
Cc The Office of the Democratic Alliance Chief Whip
The Office of the Executive Mayor
The Office of the Acting Municipal Manager
The letter ends with the following message:
Alcohol and drug abuse are twin scourges that impact negatively on all aspects of South African society --- President Jacob Zuma (January 8, 2011)
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