MEDIA STATEMENT
 
EThekwini Municipality Responds to Claims of Public Funds Abuse by the Opposition
 
Date: 29 September 2017
 
The eThekwini Municipality has noted reports that are being perpetuated by some members of the opposition parties, alleging misuse of public funds in the city’s hosting of the Essence Festival Durban 2017.
 
The Essence Festival Durban is a global showcase and celebration of excellence, inspiration, empowerment and an unrivalled entertainment experience. In hosting the festival, the City of eThekwini is focused on maintaining the city’s position as the premier African destination for global sporting, conference and entertainment events. Over the years the economy of Durban has benefited enormously from this position and reputation, with many global events attracting thousands of people into the city, including global icons and eminent individuals from various fields, maintaining Durban as a top of mind destination with many around the world.
 
“There is a real need to continuously invest in attracting local and international visitors into our City. The Essence Festival Durban is a live event with a purpose of being a socio-economic engine. It showcases Durban as a liveable city leveraging its history, heritage and multiculturalism,” says Philip Sithole, Acting Deputy City Manager, Economic Development and Planning Cluster.
 
“The senior management of the Municipality acknowledges the concerns because they relate to the management of public funds, which is a responsibility it takes seriously. We have accounted to the council on these issues and we will continue to do so. We are also grateful for the support we have received from other stakeholders such as the Durban Chamber of Commerce, KZN Growth Coalition, Religious and Traditional leaders and businesses including organizations representing artists that are part of this endeavor,” says Sithole.
 
Essence Festival achievements to date
 
The festival continues to produce sustainable outcomes in empowering emerging talent across the arts and business fields. The host of investors, local and international artists, experts, performers and speakers empower, entertain and inspire those in attendance.
 
The announcement by Hightowers Petroleum from the United States of America, of a R 14 billion investment into the Durban Marina development and Waste Renewal Project bears testament to the focus of the Essence Festival as a driver of economic development. The process to secure approvals and compliance with various regulatory requirements is underway to support the commencement of the project
Herewith are a few notable success stories of the empowerment of emerging black businesses from the 2016 edition of Essence Festival Durban.
 
• Bongi Shangase who started a company, OhSo Bright Laundry Washing Paste, attended the Essence Festival last year and connected with partners from other parts of Africa, now she sells her products to number of countries across Africa.
 
• Dr Lwazi Manzi, shared her vision of an Afrocentric film content generation and distribution business to a US delegation attending the festival. To date, she has been introduced to Hollywood luminaries such as Danny Glover and her company Mercurial Pictures is a recipient of an investment from the United States. A site in which her film studios will be constructed in Durban has been identified. The investment will stimulate growth of the film industry in the city and the province of KwaZulu-Natal.
 
• Sihle Mavundla, a Durban based radio program producer, will soon be heading to the US to work as a Producer of the Steve Harvey show, after attending the festival’s creative industries workshop that was conducted by Steve Harvey last year. The skills he will acquire will be transferred back and benefit many upcoming radio content producers.
 
• Thobekile Mkhize, who founded Mabotho Designs, producing and selling luxury bags, exhibited at the festival, she has now set up a distribution channel in the United States. This year she attended the Essence festival in New Orleans where all her luxury bags were sold out. Mkhize is now servicing the US market with luxury bags, due to the empowering nature of the Essence Festival.
 
• Nyameka Ntonga, a self-taught fashion designer and dress maker, exhibited her clothing line at last year’s festival. Today she counts amongst her customers, cabinet ministers and many prominent South Africans.
 
• On day 1 of Essence Festival Durban 2017, which started with a business conference, Handsome Msomi, who established his own logistics company, Sengikwenzile Logistics, received a pledge of support from one of Durban’s and South African business icon and billionaire, Mr Vivian Reddy, for mentoring and assistance with securing finance. This follows Msomi’s impassioned plea to the business conference, for help in raising funding to purchase 20 trucks that he needs to supply to a mining operation that has awarded him with letter of intent.
 
“These are a few notable tangible benefits that have accrued to emerging black entrepreneurs who have seized the opportunity presented by the Essence festival. This is what we mean about the empowering nature of the Essence Festival and the excellence we are celebrating through this gathering”, says Sithole
 
Speakers
 
An estimated total of 71 speakers were secured for participation in panel discussions and in delivering key note addresses during the different themed events. 16 are international, with 55 being local. Some of the notable speakers include; Vivian Reddy, Chairman Edison Power Group, who shared his success story encouraged SMMEs to participate in the property industry, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who delivered a key note address at the festival’s empowerment stage, highlighting the need for women to take a centre stage role in driving radical economic transformation in South Africa.
 
Dr Judy Dlamini, who led discussion on gender equity based transformation, Sbu Shabalala CEO, Adapt IT, encouraged youth to take part in the ICT industry, Pastor Thomas Radebe, Pastor Bongi Gumbi Magudulela, Pastor Manono, Paul Nzimande were amongst key speakers who were part of the global Essence Festival Durban programme.
 
Johanna Mukoki, called on young women to aggressively pursue their entrepreneurial dreams, Social activist Reverend Al Sharpton addressed the SMME Excellence awards presenting a link to economic development with social justice.
 
The Essence Festival empowerment stage aims to celebrate women who have defied the odds of gender discrimination while giving inspiration to women who aspire to lead and make a difference through their chosen fields of expertise and businesses.
 
Artists
 
The city together with organizations representing artists identified and selected artists that will be part of the Essence Festival. Furthermore, More than 40 local artist were booked to perform throughout the festival including the concerts and activations promoting The Festival. The focus in booking artist has been to ensure that local musicians continue to benefit from the hosting of the Essence Festival.
 
The eThekwini Municipality acknowledges that not all local artist can benefit at the same time during a single hosting of the festival. However, it remains the commitment of the City to use the Essence Festival as a developmental platform for local artists.
 
Bishop TD Jakes
 
Bishop TD Jakes is here on the developmental program which includes the appearance with the Joyous Celebration on All Star Gospel Concert on Sunday 01 October 2017. The city together with sponsors have committed R2.5 million towards the program for Bishop TD Jakes. Some of his activities includes the following: marketing of Durban through social media, interviews with print and electronic media, meeting and sharing ideas with some of the association of local partners, providing motivational talk to local social activists and writers. He will conduct a business master class on Saturday 30 September with over 500 local small businesses. On Sunday, 01 October, he will collaborate with Joyous Celebration and the curtain raiser will be EThekwini Gospel ID winners.
 
Ends
 
For more festival information, please visit: http://www.essence.com/durban
 
Please read this confidentiality disclaimer:    http://www.durban.gov.za/Pages/edisclaimer.aspx