Tourism Minister Mmaloko Kubayi-Ngubane paid R150 000 for the collaborative cook-off with South African media darling Somizi Mhlongo on Monday, 17 May, just before the departmental Budget Vote.

The event, which was marketed as a way for the now-acting Minister of Health to shine the spotlight on the local culinary scene, was widely criticised.

MINISTERIAL COOK-OFF WITH SOMIZI COST R150K

On Tuesday 8 June, Mmaloko Kubayi-Ngubane said the purpose of the Minesterial cook-off was Somizi was part of the Tourism Department’s awareness activities ahead of the budget vote.

The event, which took place at The Hang Awt 1632 restaurant in Tembisa, Gauteng, was meant to showcase the work of the department by displaying the work of chefs that graduated from its training programmes, as well as promote “a culture of eating out” and patronising township establishments.

“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,” said Mmaloko Kubayi-Ngubane.

The minister stressed that Somizi received no payment for his participation in the event and said it is aware that most of the public think that was the case.

“It is 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,” said Mmaloko Kubayi-Ngubane.

The funds were obtained from the Tourism Department’s chief directorate of communications’  2021 – 2022 medium term term expenditure framework (MTEF) allocation. The minister defended the event by saying the Tourism Act allows for the development and promotion of tourism in the country.

Mmaloko Kubayi-Ngubane laid bare the details of the cook-off with Somizi after being questioned in Parliament by Democratic Alliance (DA) member Hlanganani Siphelele Gumbi, who serves in the Portfolio Committee for Tourism.

KUBAYI-NGUBANE APPOINTED ACTING HEALTH MINISTER

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that Mmaloko Kubayi-Ngubane would replace Dr Zweli Mkhize – for the time being – after the embattled health minister was placed on special leave on Tuesday, 8 June.

Mkhize’s special leave is meant to give him the chance to attend to the allegations and investigations pertaining to the Digital Vibes scandal he finds himself involved in. Kubayi-Ngubane will serve as the Acting Minister of Health until further notice, according to the president.

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Presh JM Reporter

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