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Did the tourism minister really pay R150k for a cook-off with Somizi?

Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane participated in a cook-off with Somizi in May
Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane participated in a cook-off with Somizi in May/Twitter (@tourism_gov_za)

By Kaya 959 News

Did Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane really pay R150 000 for her celebrity cook-off with Somizi Mhlongo-Motaung?

Despite claims she did, the minister has refuted this.

Reports claim that the tourism department forked out R150 000 for the cook-off. Now, DA MP Hlanganani Gumbi wants to know if Hlanganani Gumbi lied about the event.

“Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane indicated in a parliamentary question to the DA that Somizi was never paid for the cook-off,” he said.

In her response, the minister said, “It is also important to state that there was no payment made to Mr Somizi Mhlongo and the department notes with concern the general public perception that he benefited from the event, which is not the case.

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Gumbi said if it is found that the Minister lied, this would be akin to perjury which is a serious violation of her office.

“In order to get to the bottom of the facts, the Portfolio Committee on Tourism has a responsibility to hold Minister Kubayi-Ngubane and her department to account on the funds spent. The tourism sector has been hit hard due to the ANC government’s lockdown and deserves a Minister and department focussed on helping business get back on their feet,” he said.

Grotesque vanity show

The party said it was taking the matter seriously as it “intends to stamp out this kind [of] grotesque vanity show which doesn’t help those people in the tourism industry who need the help of the government.”

The DA has written to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Tourism, Supra Mahumaphela, to request an urgent meeting.

Last month’s cook-off was a marketing event for the department.

She said the cook-off was part of the pre-Tourism budget vote departmental awareness activities, showcasing the work of the department in terms of the participation of graduate chefs and its training programmes as well as to promote a culture of eating out, particularly at townships establishments.

It was widely reported that the R150 000 was for the cost of the venue, the hired mobile kitchen, staff, safety, a stage and other equipment needed.

Despite allegations that Mhlongo-Motaung sent an invoice, the minister said no payment was made to the radio personality.

She added that the funds were from the Chief Directorate: Communications, from its 2021/2022 MTEF allocation.

Questions around payment began swirling when  Mhlongo-Motaung hinted at requesting payment.

In a video posted on social media, he joked about payment.

A journalist from eNCA’s Checkpoint asked how much he was paid and he said he didn’t owe anyone the information.

“I did send in an invoice. Ask them how much they paid me,” Mhlongo-Motaung said.

The cook-off took place on 17 May.

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