The Gauteng department of sports, arts, culture and recreation has defended spending more than R100,000 on corporate gifts.
This after the DA slammed the spending as “wasteful expenditure”.
The department said in a statement that it had delivered a “splendid awards ceremony on Saturday, 13 November 2021 honouring athletes and various bodies within the sporting fraternity who have performed well and are deserving of recognition”.
It forked out R105,725 on corporate gifts this year, which the DA said was 19 times more than the R5,553.00 spent in 2018-2019.
Department spokesperson Nomazwe Ntlokwana said they bought corporate gifts from local crafters for the awardees at Saturday’s ceremony and for international dignitaries at the Intra-African Trade Fair.
“Therefore, our spend of just over R100,000 in the procurement of artwork from local crafters to use as gifts for international dignitaries and various embassies during bilateral engagements to advance brand Gauteng’s offering in the arts is not sinister,” said Ntlokwana.
“It should be mentioned that there is nothing untoward in departments or any entity buying corporate gifts, to begin with,” Ntlokwana added.
DA slams the gift spend as wasteful
DA member of the provincial legislature (MPL) Kingsol Chabalala said the money could have provided much-needed grants to artists and athletes who lost their livelihoods and were forced into unemployment during the Covid-19 lockdown.
Chabalala said the department had increased its expenditure on corporate gifts by 1804% in the 2020-2021 financial year.
“There are still many artists and athletes in the province who are struggling to make ends meet and the utter lack of consideration and sympathy by this department in terms of priorities is unacceptable,” said Chabalala.
According to the department, “the gifts are to be given throughout the five-year term of the administration”.
“It remains curious why Chabalala would opt to classify this procurement as wasteful, further making a mountain out of procurement that benefitted local crafters and stands to promote their craft within the international community,” said Ntlokwana.
MEC Mbali Hlophe advocated for the spending of the money, in support of local arts and crafts, saying Chabalala should be ashamed of himself.
“It’s evident Chabalala is hellbent to find fault even where none exists. It’s unfortunate that the DA deems it wasteful for the department to invest in local crafters,” said MEC Mbali Hlophe.
“The just over R100,000 expenditure over five years on the valuable artwork of our crafters, is in fact small. And we remain of the view that as a government we ought to invest far more in our local crafters and artists.”
Hlophe further stated that “government buildings should have paintings and statues by local artists that celebrate and display who we are as a nation”.
“Chabalala should be ashamed of himself for not seeing value in supporting local artists”.
Chabalala said while corporate gifts were important, the social and economic impact of Covid-19 should have warranted the “overspend on corporate gifts”.