Last night I went to the Concert in the Orchard in the Litchi Orchard, Salt Rock for the first time. It is a fairly new event and as such is still going through a variety of minor teething problems mainly related to traffic and crowd control. The ambience was fantastic and the support from the general public was very good. The food, bars and suchlike were great! The concert itself was of a decent quality. My only gripes were related to the height of the stage, and the size of the sound system. The stage could have been double its height so that we could see the action better and perhaps the organisers underestimated the size of the crowd because the sound system was unable to rise above the noise of the crowd on many occassions.
Which brings me to the intrigue to which I refer in the title of this post. The technical and the tents etc were supplied by the Ilembe branch of the Dept of Arts & Culture. It’s great that the department is supporting these events. I wish I could be totally unqualified in my praise of the Department of Arts & Culture but it is very disturbing to hear how the quotes were obtained and what finally transpired. It is unnerving to hear that the quote for Sound that was accepted by the department procurement section was nearly double the average quote, made more intriguing by the fact that the said sound company did not have the necessary gear to be able to do the gig and had to sub-contract to another company. Ironically, the sub-contractor was one of the original bidders and did the job at their original price. How does this work? How can a company win a bid that they are unable to do at double the price quote by other companies in the bid process?
It would seem the Gwede Mantashe’s concerns about BEE contractors overcharging is still holding true. Here was a classic case of overcharging. Someone in authority accepted this overpriced quote and is not being held accountable! This is even more maddening when one hears that performers are constantly underpaid and are always at the wrong end of a negotiated price by that same department.
It would seem that procurement policy is not as transparent as it should be, not even within the department itself. For quite some time I have watched the way the financing of events in the region unfold and it would seem that there is no clear policy or plan in place. A policy that levels the playing fields, that is transparent and to which every player can have access.
Despite all this, the event was great! Here’s hoping it grows from strength to strength and that the organisers learn from the excersize and improve the traffic and crowd control. Well done Handmade Concerts and the Ballito/Salt Rock community that staged it!