The budget for the Soweto Festival Expo is less than a tenth of the Tribe One Festival’s. A bigger mismatch of expenditure versus value creation would be hard to find. This is a typical example of government’s obsession with trophy events with big names at the expense of events that make a measurable impact on the communities they are meant to serve.
(Note: GEP apparently insisted on sourcing and managing the SME exhibitors this year. 30% of the stands were empty, which is a disgrace. In previous years when ALP did this job the no-show rate was less than 5%. Just another illustration of how government agencies are failing their stakeholders. It plays into one my recommendations made at Friday's Portfolio Committee on SBD strategy workshop, that government must outsource as much as possible to the private sector who are better incentivised to get this sort of work done.)
At this point I should declare my interest: until my election to Parliament in May I was Managing Director of ALP. I resigned to avoid a conflict of interest and no longer play any part in the management of the company.
In 1984 ALP raised R2 million in cash and about as much in-kind to build the Jabavu Expo Centre which was the home for the Soweto Homemakers Festival that year and in 1985. Sadly, in 1986it went into hibernation: Soweto was not an easy place to do business in those days. But in 2005 it was revived and I joined the management team to run it.
In 2011 the Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Elizabeth Thabethe, was the senior government representative present at the official opening. In her speech she repeated the department’s commitment to supporting small businesses, though then and in subsequent years the DTI was deaf to our appeals to match her words with deeds.