HCM Received Worthless Award

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Johan Pretorius

The Hibiscus Coast Municipality is one of several municipalities in South Africa which have been conned into accepting worthless awards for “excellent performance” in one form or another.
Worst of all, is that these “awards” are then presented to these municipalities at great cost to the municipalities themselves at flashy functions abroad……and the ratepayers have to foot the bill.
The Sunday newspaper Rapport reported this weekend that it had uncovered a classic swindle by the so-called Europe Business Assembly which annually gives these awards to banks, municipalities and businesses in developing countries.
To qualify for an award, the recipient must pay up to R100 000 for ‘service and accreditation fees’.
The EBA does not announce the winners beforehand, and all the nominees therefore have to attend the award ceremony.
The Madibeng municipality in Northwest, is the latest recipient of an award by the EBA for ‘efficient management’.
Madibeng says in a statement that it had been “singled out for its dynamic development, high investment and tourism potential and attractive image’.  Madibeng says it is ‘proud to be honoured internationally’.

This in spite of the fact that Co-operative Government and Traditional Affairs Minister Richard Baloyi last year ordered an investigation into widespread corruption, nepotism, and fraud in Madibeng.  This municipality has been under administration before, and recently the Treasury reclaimed R77 million that ‘Madibeng did not spend properly’.

Madibeng’s ‘award’ is to be presented to it in Montreaux, Switzerland, in July.
Rapport points out that the Capricorn District Municipality in Limpopo has also been nominated for ‘the best city management’.
The mayor is expected to fly to Switzerland to receive the award.   In the past financial year Madibeng received a qualified audit from the Auditor General.
Last year the manager Hugh Mbatha of the Ehlanzeni District Municipality and three other senior officials travelled to Ireland to receive an EBA award. The same Mbatha who was accused in a report by the Public Protector of helping to embezzle R120 000.
Our own HCM Mayor Cynthia Mqwebu last year received an EBA award in Dublin for ‘ civil satisfaction and comfort levels’.
On these Dublin trips, which last four days and are billed as ‘leadership events’, the officials are treated to visits to the Guinness beer brewery, and lavishly entertained.   The hotel accommodation is in The Westbury, which costs R6 500 per night.
The EBA web page states that it is a ‘corporation for the development and management of economic and human co-operation’.

However, Rapport says, international news reports state that the EBA sends out piles of letters to institutions, mainly in developing countries, informing them that they have been nominated for ‘a prestigious international award’.  If a positive response is received, a price list is then sent to the institutions.  Although an official denied that the recipients pay for their prizes, she admitted that ‘service fees’ could be as high as R84 000, depending on the ‘service’ required by the recipients during the awards week. When reporter Jacques Pauw wanted more details, she put the phone down in his ear.

Ehlanzeni spokesperson Lucky Ngomane stated that this municipality ‘luckily did not spend anything on the awards’, but admitted to paying R358 000 on a trip to Dublin.
Howz!t asked HCM spokesperson Simon Soboyisa for comment……….

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