South Africa: Baleka Mbete Leaves Businesses in the Lurch As Bill for the Speaker’s Ball Goes Unpaid

I have reliably been informed that none of the service providers that worked on The Speaker's Ball, a post-SONA event hosted by the Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, have been paid in full. Some service providers have not received any payment for the event which was held at a five-star hotel in Camps Bay on 9 February.

The DA will be reporting the matter to Parliament's Joint Committee on Ethics and Members' Interests as we contend that Mbete has brought the Office of the Speaker into disrepute.

More than a month after the event, several small businesses are still owed payments ranging from R70,453 for flowers and decor to R137,444 for equipment hire to R206,482 for catering and staffing.

It is understood that Western Cape service providers were engaged by a Johannesburg-based events company which, in turn, was engaged by yet another Johannesburg-based events company purporting to be acting on behalf of Baleka Mbete and Nkuli Kgositsile, both of whom were personally involved in planning the event. We are led to believe that legal action is now pending against Mbete.

The DA raised questions over The Speaker's Ball on 7 February, seeking clarity over who was paying for the lavish event and whether or not Parliament had contributed or committed any funds, in disregard of Treasury's cost-cutting measures. Media conjecture prompted ANC spokesperson, Zizi Kodwa, to state explicitly that it was not a party event.

It is especially concerning that the event was organised and held in the name of the Speaker, who is indeed the representative of Parliament. Tarnishing the name of the Speaker is no different to tarnishing the institution itself.

The DA is appalled that Mbete's failure to pay her accounts has placed businesses in distress. This ugly affair is symptomatic of a self-indulgent, opulent ANC leadership that holds honest, hard-working South Africans in contempt.

Mbete must settle her dues immediately, failing which she should be called to account to Parliament on why she has disgraced the Office of the Speaker and, by extension, the Legislature.

Source: Democratic Alliance