DA says R214m spent by Free State premier on events is 'criminal'


The Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Free State has said the R214 million spent by the Free State Premier, Sefora 'Sisi' Ntombela on events is "criminal".

The DA's Dr Roy Jankielsohn said Ntombela's expenditure remains "callous amid promises of cost-cutting and ethical behaviour by government in her budget speeches".

Jankielsohn said the DA had submitted a question in the Free State Legislature, which revealed that between June 2018 and July 2020 Ntombela's office spent R214,417,750.38 on event management services.

"Four companies were the main beneficiaries of this largesse, namely Dots design Agency R59,977,998.21; Quail Media-Cubicle Trading JV R54,758,060.58; Thepa Trading R61,335,128.27 and Central Plaza Investments R38,446,573.31.

"The spending over 26 months adds up to an average of more than R8 million on events management services per month. This proves that the Office of the Premier remains the milking parlour of taxpayer money, even after it was vacated by "the master of milking" former Premier Ace Magashule," Jankielsohn said.

He said during her 2019 budget speech, Ntombela had promised to reduce spending, avoid wasting money and that "every cent" would be accounted for "to fill our people's aspirations".

"We will strictly adhere to cost-cutting measures."

Jankielsohn said in her latest office of the premier budget speech Ntombela indicated that the province's growth and development "depends on building a capable, ethical and developmental state".

"Her spending on events management adds no value to her commitment to cut wastage and fill our people's aspirations in the Free State that has a 38.4% unemployment rate, 44.5% if disgruntled job seekers are added under the expanded definition, and growing poverty and hunger.

"Given the dire situation in the province, the DA regards this unnecessary expenditure that is incurred at the cost of the poorest of the poor by an incapable, unethical and uncaring Free State Premier as criminal. The excessive amounts of taxpayer funds paid for official government parties creates a legitimate impression that these funds could be abused to fund the governing party.

"The DA will submit further questions to determine the exact nature of this unnecessary expenditure on events management to the implicated companies that at face value, rather than cost-cutting, appears to be blatant looting."

(Compiled by Makhosandile Zulu)

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