Johannesburg - Moving the opening of the Gauteng legislature from Joburg to Mamelodi outside Pretoria racked up more than R4 million in irregular expenditure.
This was revealed in a report submitted to the oversight committee on the premier’s office and legislature.
The Star revealed earlier this year that the dinner held for the opening in February was catered for by speaker of the legislature Lindiwe Maseko’s daughter.
DA Gauteng chief whip Glenda Steyn estimated that the full cost of the opening ceremony was R6.5m, although she had never received a full answer on what the event cost.
The extra costs incurred were due to the ceremony being moved to a stadium in Mamelodi instead of the legislature building in Joburg. The reason for the move was said to be to bring the ceremony “to the people”.
The R4m irregular expenditure was broken into R1.97m for the breakfast served and R2.1m to turn the stadium into a replica of Parliament.
Steyn said this did not come close to the full cost of the event, which also included a finger lunch, gala dinner, transport and accommodation for members of the provincial legislature (MPLs) at the Sheraton Hotel.
The report said the breakfast was catered for by Growth Media & Events and Zazise Communications and was approved by secretary of the legislature Peter Skosana.
Turning the stadium into a replica of Parliament was done by Pure Event Gear and was also approved by Skosana.
When conducting its own investigation into allegations that prices were inflated by service providers, the Gauteng Finance Department found with the catering of the event that: quotations were obtained from only one service provider, rates charged by the service provider were structured to capture the budget of the legislature, rates for beverages were not quoted for, and officials were not diligent in executing their responsibilities.
Steyn said the re-creation of Parliament was both extravagant and unnecessary.
“It is now also confirmed as irregular expenditure because it did not go out to competitive tender,” said Steyn. “It would have been much more cost-effective to have the opening at the Gauteng legislature in Johannesburg, and the money would have been better spent on real service delivery in Gauteng.”
She asked how many ordinary people actually attended the event, saying those who attended were mainly MPLs and their spouses.
Earlier this year The Star reported that the gala dinner for the opening was held at The Dome, a venue whose catering company is partly owned by Edna Maseko, the speaker’s daughter. The opening was mired in controversy from the start when it started two hours late, and the full cost was far more than that of previous legislature openings.