Council wrestling funding free-for-all

Councillors spar over grappling extravaganza, writes Shaun Gillham

City Hall in Port Elizabeth. File picture
City Hall in Port Elizabeth. File picture
Image: Karen van Rooyen

There was lightweight party political sparring at the City Hall in Port Elizabeth on Friday when members of the metro’s sport, recreation, arts and cultural services committee faced off over a multimillion-rand wrestling contract.

At stake is the continuation of a Loyiso Events association with the Nelson Mandela municipality that is centred on a relatively new addition to the region’s annual Splash Festival programme – the WWP Wrestling Extravaganza.

Loyiso first entered into a three-year agreement with the authority in March 2015 to stage the extravaganza and in 2017 and 2018, the event became an additional event integrated into the festival.

Loyiso was making a bid to pin the metro down for yet another three year-contract.

This would see the self-described “sports entertainment” entity stage further wrestling events at the festival, while implementing social responsibility programmes, largely around bullying, at local schools.

Citing growth in public support and past and potential media exposure derived from the event, among other benefits, Loyiso made the bid in front of new standing committee chair and member of the mayoral committee Lehlohonolo Mfana.

With echoes of a tag team affair, ANC councillor Xola Sabani was the first in the ring, when he noted the big impact the Loyiso social responsibility programme was having on schools and called for a lengthier, more in-depth presentation from Loyiso as well as visits to benefiting schools.

Tapping out, Sabani left the rest of the debate to fellow ANC councillor Simphiwo Plaatjies who contended that Loyiso be given more space to demonstrate its social investment achievements.

Councillor Margaret de Andrade was the first out of the DA corner.

She argued that Loyiso had not only delivered a poor presentation and had not answered questions adequately, but that a new multi-year contract should not be signed in the absence of any impact assessment report around the achievements of past WWP Wrestling Extravaganzas in the metro.

DA councillor Renaldo Gouws was next in the fray, arguing that Loyiso’s presentation did not differ significantly from previous presentations made by the company, which Gouws claimed had already received R6.4m from the metro.

Gouws also contended that the contract might be unwarranted expenditure as it would essentially mean that the municipality would be paying for additional entertainment for an entertainment event (Splash Festival) which already had its own budget.

He priced a year’s contract with Loyiso at R1.6m.

The item on the agenda was concluded with a decision to recommend the accommodation of the extravaganza for one more year.

The recommendation will be referred to the council for a decision.