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Ramallah statue - what was real cost ratepayers

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The ratepayers of Johannesburg have donated a six-metre-tall, R6 million statue of the late President Nelson Mandela to the Palestinian people. All the while, the city’s long-suffering ratepayers, who battle to get roads tarred, traffic lights to work or potholes fixed, are regularly told there is “no budget for it”.
by ANT KATZ | May 09, 2016

A senior member of the City Council, who asked not to be named, told Jewish Report this week that at the end of the day “much more than the published figure of R6 million” was spent on the project, the third City-funded ‘project’ with Ramallah under eighteen months.

The giant statue was last week unveiled in Ramallah by Johannesburg Mayor Parks Tau and Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas. The six-metre tall statue towers over its surrounds and the area where it is placed has been renamed Mandela Square.

Mandela statue workshop


RIGHT: In the workshop
The statue is the work of South African artists Tania Lee, Christina Salvoldi and Lungisa Kala who were appointed by the tender awardee, Koketsi Growth, whose directors include Dali Tambo and Mandla Langa.

Ramallah Mayor Musa Hadid was quoted in the Jerusalem Post as saying: “The square bearing Mandela’s name will become a major tourist attraction in Ramallah, just like his similar statue in Johannesburg is one of the most-visited tourist attractions in the city.”

Tau said: “Having overcome apartheid in South Africa with the support of the international community, it is natural to extend our ubuntu principles as Africans and indeed stand in solidarity with those nations currently experiencing various forms of political and humanitarian unrest.”

Mandela statue TALLTau had told the media what the price tag was, adding that Israeli customs had sought duty "equivalent to 10 times the price of the statue".


LEFT: At the unveiling in April

This amount, Tau said, was not paid. He did not, however, say how much was in fact paid.

Jewish Report has asked the city’s media department for a full accounting of the costs involved in this act of generosity.

The enquiry by Jewish Report includes whether correct supply chain management procedures were followed; whether the construction was within the budgeted price; the transportation costs to get the two-tonne behemoth to Ramallah; and the number and cost of travel, accommodation and any other costs borne by the City of Johannesburg for their delegation attending the unveiling (Jewish Report has been reliably informed that Tau was accompanied by at least two others: Council Speaker Connie Bapela and mayoral committee member Nonceba Molwele); and whether the city funded the event that was held with the public unveiling.

Mandela statue3


LEFT: Under wraps - the statue before its unveiling

The delegation also had an SABC TV crew along with them to document the incident. Such outside broadcasts are most often paid for, especially when overseas travel is involved.

Jewish Report also inquired about in accordance with what bylaw did the city have a foreign policy and under which portfolio it would fall.

The answers are important for the city’s ratepayers ahead of the local municipal elections, scheduled for August 3.

Johannesburg has been spending large tranches of ratepayers’ funds annually for the past three years - in fact over the past 18 months.

PSW - mayor in Ramallah


RIGHT: Senior city officials shmoozing in Ramallah in 2014. The mayor is in the centre back of the picture


In November 2014 “a mission from Johannesburg visited Ramallah”, according to the city’s website. Jewish Report has established that nine delegates went on the mission, namely: Johnnesburg Executive Mayor, Councillor Parks Tau; the Speaker, Councillor C Bapela; the head of the private office of the executive mayor, Loyiso Ntshikila; the head of the private office of the Speaker, Monty Sekhukhuni; and Mr Jan Erasmus.

Non Johannesburg delegates were: national deputy minister Obed Bapela; a representative of the SA Local Government Association (Salga) based in the City of Tshwane; the ANC Regional Secretary; and the president of the Students Representative Council (SRC) of Wits University.

PSW - HomeAs far as could be established, all nine members of the delegation were funded by the City.


LEFT: In early 2015, the City and Wits University SRC (seemingly irregularly in the case of the latter) funded a reportedly very expensive five-star trip for a delegation from Ramallah to visit Johannesburg

Finally, Ramallah’s Mayor Hadid made it clear at the unveiling of the statue: “We look forward to more steps being taken to enhance this relationship further.”

In other words, this is arguably not expected to be the last of Johannesburg’s generosity.


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