Miss World gives Jo’burg a hangover

The 2009 Miss World event, hosted by the City of Johannesburg, was a waste of money, charges an internal report compiled by an ANC-led task group.

The Mail & Guardian has seen the confidential report, which criticises the metropolitan council’s motivation for splashing out R90-million on the pageant in December 2009. “The motivation has not been backed by concrete evidence, including a breakdown of ancillary cost and a cost-benefit analysis,” said the report.

“[The task team] also finds the explanation that the event would contribute to ‘advertising’ the city as a preferred safe destination is not convincing, given the city’s history in hosting major world events. The fact that the event happened just months before the city was to play the nucleus role in the Fifa World Cup makes a mockery of the motivation.”

The findings come as a surprise, given that the council repeatedly and publicly defended its hosting of the pageant when the cost was discovered. The report was written in early 2010 by a task team comprising ANC provincial secretary David Makhura, regional secretary Pule Mlambo and local government experts Pascal Moloi and Mogomotsi Mogodiri.

“The task team is disappointed that the Johannesburg Tourism Company invested all its two-year allocation from the bidding fund on a single event. The strain on the city’s finances and the negative publicity it attracted could have been avoided.”

The report also mentions problems in council spending on Soccer City prior to the Fifa World Cup. “The original estimates were ‘thumbsucks’ and did not anticipate the world economic crisis,” says the report. “The city took a bold move to fund the R3,2-billion. — The entire 2010 Soccer City ‘deal’ requires review.”

Capacity stretched
The report takes issue also with the council’s exposure to the Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit System. “The establishment of the company took too long and as we meet today, Scania, the bus supplier, is owed R400-million. The city’s capacity has been stretched.”

Criticising the council’s leadership and management in general, the report finds that more planning and feasibility studies should have been conducted for major projects such as Soccer City and the BRT instead of mere scoping exercises. “We took serious risks without a risk-management strategy,” it says.

A member of the ANC who worked closely with the task team told the M&G: “No one has been held accountable by this report. The city wants to forget about it, but the billing issues are the issues the report is talking to.”

The purpose of the task team was to understand the challenges facing the city that led to it making a decision to “reprioritise spending and introduce budget cuts three months after passing a budget in May 2009”.

City spokesperson Stan Maphologela said the city was not privy to the report. However, ANC spokesperson Dumisa Ntuli said it was presented to mayor Amos Masondo and recommendations were made to the city.

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