Decrepit Grahamstown won’t lose NAF

Decrepit Grahamstown won’t lose NAF
Decrepit Grahamstown won’t lose NAF
There are no plans to move the National Arts Festival from Grahamstown, its organisers said on social media this week.

The NAF described as “sensationalised” reports quoting its CEO Tony Lankester as saying it was becoming difficult to justify keeping the national event in Grahamstown.

Lankester, along with business, community, and other Grahamstown leaders, were laying it on the line for Cooperative Governance Minister Zweli Mkhize, who visited Grahamstown last week to see for himself the dire state the Makana municipal area is in.

While everyone at the meeting indicated a willingness to work with the government to turn the decaying city around, Mkhize was left in no doubt just how difficult it was to do business in the small city with its breakdown in the provision of basic services, decaying infrastructure, collapsing road network, and frequent water and electricity outages.

Lankester, who has always been a strong advocate for keeping the festival in Grahamstown, told the minister it was becoming difficult to justify doing so. The city has hosted the NAF for 44 years.

But, the NAF said on social media this week the infrastructure issues had been around for a while and had been widely discussed.

“What is new is a proactive and energetic movement among the citizens, institutions and businesses of Grahamstown, and a determination to overcome the challenges we face.”

It says there was more energy than ever before being focused on reviving the town.

“We are positive about the future and look forward to continuing to be part of the social and economic life of Grahamstown and the Eastern Cape, starting with this year’s festival .”

Mkhize last week brought in a large team consisting of his top management structure to assess Makana municipality.

However, he said while his team would ensure a plan was in place and that the municipality would be held accountable to carrying it out, there would be no pot of money to assist the distressed municipality until it got the basics right. It is estimated that repairing the road infrastructure alone would cost more than R1-billion.