KwaZulu-Natal puts the breaks on the Samas after public outcry over its R20 million sponsorship

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KZN Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs MEC Siboniso Duma.

Johnathan Paoli

KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs MEC Siboniso Duma has announced that the KwaZulu-Natal government has decided to no longer contribute R20 million towards the hosting of the 29th South African Music Awards (Samas).

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Speaking at a media briefing on Wednesday, MEC Duma said that the matter had been highly politicised by opposition parties, following public outcry over government expenditure.

“The return of investment was going to be at the value of around R450 million and it was going to be depending on another score because you will find that each time there is an event taking place in the province, a lot of investment might come after it because if you are going to host the Samas for the next three years, there are strategic people that are going to come. Sama’s are like Grammy’s in South Africa,” Duma said.

The provincial business hub was set to host the two-day award ceremony on 17 and 18 November, with the metro estimating that the event would inject R63 million into the city’s GDP.

The municipality said the money would be used for various purposes, including catering and security, and thousands were expected to gather in Durban for the event.

The MEC defended the previous decision and said that the government was merely trying to support the creative arts industry and the decision was taken after a wide consultation with several stakeholders.

Duma added that the now-canned awards presented an opportunity for artists who bore the brunt of Covid-19 to benefit from the event.

Previously, opposition parties DA and ActionSA raised alarm over the lack of an itemised budget with accurate and substantiated figures for the planned expenditure on the Samas.

“While ActionSA supports the hosting of the Sama Awards in eThekwini for its tourism spin-offs, we are opposed to the exorbitant re-prioritisation of the provincial and municipal budget when there are more urgent needs that the people of KwaZulu-Natal need addressed,” Mncwango said. (this is the first time you mention Mncwango, what is his first name and title, please).

Even President Cyril Ramaphosa had to weigh in on the matter following the public outcry and warned the government to practice fiscal responsibility in light of the increasing concerns over the expected awards.

“In the MEC’s report to premiers, the president does not get involved in the day-to-day running of provincial departments. However, the president did advise MEC Duma against such spending in the interest of maintaining fiscal discipline,” Magwenya said.

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