In what can only be seen as one of the most uncaring moves by KwaZulu-Natal’s (KZN) ANC Taliban faction government – the province’s Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA) has spent more than R30 million on eat, meet and greet functions since May this year.
Clearly aimed at building a profile for MEC Siboniso Duma and the ANC ahead of the 2024 elections, parliamentary questions (view here) by the DA have revealed a department more concerned with big money catered events rather than core service delivery that leads to jobs and opportunities.
Ironically, one of these lavish functions takes place today, the same day as the Division of Revenue Amendment (DORA) Bill serves before the legislature, with massive budget cuts for critical services including health and education on the cards.
In this latest splurge of taxpayer’s money, MEC Duma has allegedly summoned more than 2 000 EDTEA staffers to another extravagant event at Midmar Dam that comes with a bill of at least R600 000.
Cloaked as a wellness day, the event features artists and a fully catered lunch. Meanwhile, sources have revealed the “wellness day” will be preceded by another engagement at a Durban-based country club. Again, at the expense of taxpayers.
The Midmar event is but just one of 14 EDTEA events held since May 2023 that have cost our province R29million. It also comes in the wake of the South African Music Awards (SAMA) scandal, where National Treasury and the Presidency were forced to intervene and cancel the proposed R28million budget.
EDTEA’s long list of supposed community and public engagement campaigns are a slap in the face for KZN’s citizens who continue to suffer high unemployment and little opportunity.
It is also clear that there is a blurring of lines between EDTEA’s administration and political hierarchy, with MEC Duma seemingly using every opportunity to profile himself. This behaviour was clearly seen as he uncaringly side-lined Premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube at the recent Rugby World Cup events in Durban.
Putting the residents and economy of KZN first, rather than partying, will always be a priority of the DA. We call on residents to stand with us and rescue our province and our country when they go to the polls in 2024.