I refer you to the article published in the Daily Dispatch issue dated 1 November 2016 titled “Metro injects R13m into festive events” (Page 5). Mazwai Strategic Communications as owners and organisers of the Buyel’Ekhaya Pan African Festival hosted annually in East London find ourselves burdened to set the record straight in response to the false allegations made by DA councillors Chantal King and Susan Bentley in your ill-advised article. We therefore place on record the following;

 

The Buyel’ekhaya Pan African Festival was established in 2009 primarily for the socio-cultural and economic benefit of the people of the Buffalo City Municipality and the Eastern Cape as a whole. The positive and rising socio-cultural and economic impact the festival has had for the Buffalo City Municipality over the years is a matter of public record not only available in all close-out reports submitted annually to all sponsors since the festivals inception, but also in the 2014 economic impact report commissioned by Mazwai Strategic Communications and conducted by the Department of Economics and Economic History, Rhodes University (‘The Current Economic Impact and Future Expansion Potential of the Buyel’Ekhaya Pan African Music Festival). This economic impact report quantified the economic benefits of the Buyel’Ekhaya Music Festival and found that the festival contributed in excess of R25 million for the Buffalo City Municipality and would continue to grow this contribution exponentially every year. Based on the quoted sponsorship amount of R4,9 million, this represents a return on investment ratio of 1:5. We are happy to provide you with this quantitative assessment on the economic benefits and impact of the Buyel’Ekhaya Music Festival.

 

Mazwai Strategic Communications has provided qualitative and quantitative close-out reports to all sponsors annually since the festivals inception in 2009.The qualitative report speaks to the various elements of the festival, including but not limited to a security report, PR report, production report, as well as socio-economic development report which includes job creation and SMME promotion. The quantitative report gives an audited financial report of the festival. A comprehensive close-out report was submitted to Mr Vuyani Mbatha, in his administrative capacity as Manager for Local Economic Development, and to Councillor Phumla Nazo, in her capacity as Mayoral Committee member in charge of Local Economic Development. The claim that no such report exists or was never submitted to the Buffalo City Municipality as alleged by Councilor Chantal King is utterly untrue. The Buyel’Ekhaya Pan African Festival has several sponsors that have supported the event through the years and who all require close-out reports from the festival to account for funds disbursed to it.

 

Mazwai Strategic Communications prides itself in consistently delivering an annual world class event for festival patrons and benchmarks itself to international standards. Care and due diligence in the behind-the-scenes preparations, execution and close-out is customary protocol and operational culture of the festival. The allegations made by the DA councilors are a misrepresentation of the facts and designed to cast aspersions on the Buyel’Ekhaya brand which is popularly supported by the people of Buffalo City Municipality and the Eastern Cape.

 

It is disappointing that the once highly reputable Daily Dispatch which enjoys such pride of place in the East London community since the days of editor Donald Woods has degenerated to such low journalistic standards. It appears that the journalist that eagerly penned the article in question is oblivious to the current political dynamics in the country or is happy to fit into a particular narrative within these dynamics. The journalist indeed found it sufficient to take the allegations of the DA councilors and bothered not to seek comment or response from those these allegations are leveled at. Neither the councilors at the Buffalo City Municipality involved or the Buyel’Ekhaya Pan African Festival were contacted. You as editor of the paper were pleased to accept and publish such lazy journalism.

 

We would like to encourage you sir to raise the bar of journalism at the Daily Dispatch and caution you to be wary of entrenching a stereotype of black business as inherently corrupt, unprofessional and incompetent. Mazwai Strategic Communications demands a formal written retraction and apology by your paper for dispersing these false and unfounded allegations that have tarnished the Buyel’Ekhaya brand.

Nomahlubi Mazwai
Programme Director: Buyel’Ekhaya Pan African Festival