Councils blow R3m on Namibia sport jaunt

TWO Eastern Cape councils have spent in excess of R3-million on a sports junket to Namibia for 10 days, which ended in Swakopmund yesterday.

The money was spent on flights and accommodation for more than 200 officials from Buffalo City Metro (BCM) and Amathole District Municipality (ADM).

This included 11 BCM councillors including mayor Zukiswa Ncitha and 130 metro employees. ADM sent two councillors and 71 employees.

BCM spent close to R1.4-million while ADM spent nearly R1.6-million. The costs included hired vehicles, luxury hotels, meals and air tickets. Each employee was even given R4100 to spend.

The officials went to Namibia to take part in the annual Southern African Inter Municipal Sports Association (Saimsa) games.

Saimsa represents municipalities in the Southern African Democratic Community (SADC) and holds its annual games in different SADC regions every year.

Ncitha spent two days at the games at a cost of R16841 – after cutting short her mayoral imbizo programme.

About R1960 was spent on hiring a car for her, R3180 on her hotel and R11701 on her air tickets.

She was accompanied by 10 councillors, who are expected to return tomorrow.

Only one of the councillors is actually participating in an event – the others went as spectators.

According to BCM’s acting director of executive support services Ondela Mahlangu, the 10 BCM councillors’ trip cost taxpayers R263640.

Almost R30000 went on car hire, over R120600 on accommodation and meals, and R113640 on air tickets.

BCM also sent a team of 130 metro employees representing sporting codes like soccer, netball, volleyball, snooker, darts, table tennis, tennis, roadrunning and golf.

The employees were accommodated in Swakopmund, Walvis Bay and Upington at a cost of R594489. Travel costs amounted to R383878 and their corporate sportswear more than R133320.

Ncitha defended her trip saying she had to attend the games as BCM will host the event next year.

“I needed to be present in the opening so I can receive the baton,” she said.

The games attract more than 6500 people including athletes and supporters from South Africa, Namibia, Swaziland, Lesotho, Botswana, Zambia and Mozambique.

BCM won the games in 2012 and hosted them in 2006.

Ncitha said hosting the event in 2014 would bring massive spin-offs to the local tourism industry. “We urge tourism and related industries to gear up for a bumper week in the city,” she said.

The metro has set aside R15-million in this financial year for all sporting activities, including key strategic domestic and international sporting activities.

ADM acting municipal manager Nkosinathi Soga said 71 employees including two councillors are in Namibia.

“There are two councillors who attended the games.

“One is the portfolio head for sports and the other is an active sports player,” Soga said. “The funding for the trip comes from internal funding under the sports department budget. Also, other departments made contributions towards other costs, ensuring that the trip is a success.”

Soga said the ADM group spent R400500 on air tickets and R490000 on accommodation and meals, while 31 officials received R4175 each for the 10 days spent at the games, while another 30 received R3757 each and 10 received R3340 each.

“The money is for subsistence and travelling (S&T).

“The S&T rate per day is calculated using the South African Revenue Services rate and is also dependent on the country visited. In this instance, the rate for Namibia is R835 per day,” Soga said.

“However, because they get three meals a day, our own policy dictates that travelling employees be given subsistence at 50% off the rate.”

It is not the first time these councils have spent huge amounts of money sending staff to these games.

Last year BCM sent more than 200 officials and 10 councillors to the games held in Gaborone, Botswana. Officials travelled in two buses and six Quantum minibuses.

The cash-strapped ADM, which increased water tariffs by 100% last year, sent a delegation of 52. The entire ADM delegation was flown to and from Gaborone. — mphumziz@dispatch.co.za

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