R150K cook-off: Minister slammed after Somizi ‘contradicts’ her in Checkpoint interview

Somizi contradicts minister on Checkpoint
Image credit: Twitter/Dept of Tourism

Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane is in hot water after popular celebrity Somizi Mhlongo-Motaung apparently contradicted her on eNCA‘s Checkpoint.

In a statement on Thursday (17 June), DA MP Hlanganani Gumbi asked whether or not Kubayi-Ngubane had lied in a parliamentary reply on her recent cook-off with Somizi, which cost the government R150,000.

‘No payment to Somizi’

Gumbi had asked the Minister to explain what the cook-off, which was held at DJ Shimza’s The Hang Awt in Tembisa, was meant to achieve and if government funds were used.

“The Ministerial cock-off was part of the pre-Tourism Budget Vote departmental awareness activities, showcasing the work of the department in terms of the participation of graduate chefs from its training programmes as well as promoting a culture of eating out particularly at township establishments,” Kubayi-Ngubane explained in her reply.

“The event cost was R150,000 covering the venue and mobile kitchen hire, event staffing, safety and event compliance requirements, the stage, sound system, food supplies, exhibition setup, publicity including live-streaming of activities and sound system.

“It is also important to state that there was no payment made to Mr Somizi Mhlongo and the department notes with concern the general public perception that he benefited from the event, which is not the case.”

Somizi’s Checkpoint interview

However, Somizi appeared to contradict the Minister during his interview on Checkpoint on Wednesday (16 June). He was asked how much the department had paid him for his participation in the cook-off.

“I don’t owe anyone that information. Ask them how much they paid me. I did send in an invoice. I’m just an artiste who was booked and I did my job. That’s it,” he said.

Asked if there was a prior agreement that he would be paid a certain amount, he answered, “Yes.”

Citing this interview, Gumbi said if it is found that the Minister had lied, “this would be akin to perjury which is a serious violation of her office.”

“In order to get to the bottom of the facts, the Portfolio Committee on Tourism has a responsibility to hold Minister Kubayi-Ngubane and her department to account on the funds spent,” Gumbi added.

“The tourism sector has been hit hard due to the ANC government’s lockdown and deserves a Minister and department focused on helping business get back on their feet.”

He added that the DA will ask the committee’s chairperson, Supra Mahumapelo, to reconvene it “urgently” for Kubayi-Ngubane to “provide clarity.”

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