Free State premier says DA's allegations regarding 214m spend on events are 'misleading'

Free State Premier, Sefora 'Sisi' Ntombela has said the allegations made by the DA in the province regarding her office's spend on events are misleading.

The DA's Dr Roy Jankielsohn said earlier in the week that Ntombela's office has spent R214 million on events, calling this "criminal".

Jankielsohn said the spending over 26 months adds up to an average of more than R8 million on events management services per month.

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.

He listed four companies as "the main beneficiaries of this largesse", namely:

  1. Dots design Agency – R59,977,998.21;

  2. Quail Media-Cubicle Trading JV – R54,758,060.58;

  3. Thepa Trading – R61,335,128.27 and

  4. Central Plaza Investments R38,446,573.31.

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

A statement issued by Ntombela's office reads: "All of the entities mentioned by several publications are, in fact, part of the government transversal contracts, which government has entered into legally. Furthermore, all the amounts spent, were and remain regulated prices guided by the relevant legislative frameworks."

Ntombela's office said it had received a number of inquiries from the media regarding the spending on the events.

"These inquiries insinuate that the Premier of the Free State, Sisi Ntombela, has engaged in what they call 'callous' expenditure. We wish to confirm that the premier has remained true to her commitment during both the state of the province address and budget vote processes, that her administration will engage in ethical behaviour and achieve more with less resources," the statement reads.

Jankielsohn had said Ntombela's "spending on events management adds no value to her commitment to cut wastage".

Ntombela's office said the information on the spending on events "was, in fact, patently submitted by" it to the provincial legislature "as part of the premier's stance of constantly upholding the tenets of an ethical government, which maintains transparency and accountability at all times".

The premier's office further said the media inquiries made "dangerously misleading claims" under Ntombela's watch and "held 'parties' using the taxpayers' money".

"This is absolutely untrue, as the events held by the office of the premier, have all been within the mandate of the office, as the coordinator of government business in the province, and were all part of calendar plans."

The office of the premier said "the important events, include, but are not limited to":

  1. The state of the province (Sopa) Addresses and Budget Vote sittings;

  2. Outreach programmes and campaigns of the premier and the department, in general;

  3. Coordination of celebrations of important national days such as the youth and women's days, among others;

  4. Other key and strategic events which form part of the programme of action of government (POA), adopted by the Executive Council (EXCO).

"It is also worth noting that the office of the premier sets aside funds for programmes related to gender-based violence (GBV). One of the passions of the premier is to deal with the prevalent scourge of GBV, which continues to manifest itself in our communities. It is our considered view that any loss of life to violence is tragic and government will spare no expense in ensuring that the lives of the people are protected. As such, the office on the status of women and gender equality, is located in the special programmes directorate in the office of the premier.

"Moreover, we wish to categorically state that the office of the premier's main preoccupation, remains that of providing strategic direction and to coordinate integrated service delivery within government in the Free State.

"The premier remains committed to the core values of accountability, cost-cutting and transparency. The caring government of the Free State, is working tirelessly with social partners and stakeholders, to ensure that a battle against the triple challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment is defeated.

"All of these commitments, are what drives our vision as the current administration of building the Free State we want."

(Compiled by Makhosandile Zulu)

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