Minstrels promise to keep on fighting

The Cape Town Minstrel Carnival Association returns to court today to continue its fight with the City for rights to host the event and use Athlone Stadium for the 2018 minstrel season.

The Cape Town Minstrel Carnival Association (CTMCA), which has been denied funding by the City of Cape Town, remains confident that when the minstrel season kicks off next year, its sounds will be emanating from the Athlone Stadium.

The CTMCA was also refused the right to use the stadium, as well as the right to host the prestigious “Tweede Nuwe Jaar” road march, now relaunched as the Cape Town Minstrel Carnival.

However, CEO for CTMCA, Kevin Momberg, said the fight is not over, and that they were due back in court on Thursday November 16 after their “urgent high court application” had been thrown out of court last week.

“We requested the court to trigger some kind of urgency when it came to this matter but they felt it was not that important and moved the case to another date (Thursday November 16). It remains important to us and we will keep fighting,” Mr Momberg said.

He touched on last year’s proceedings, which saw troupes arriving hours after the proposed 10am starting time, saying: “Last year was a disaster. People were sitting around and some even camped in town to see the minstrels. By 4pm, they had to pack up and go home, having seen very little.”

Last year’s rights to host the Tweede Nuwe Jaar showing was handed to the Kaapse Klopse Karnival Association, which had been funded and supported by the City.

“The City has turned this matter into one big political saga. They (City) handed the rights to a minority group, but that can’t change the history. They can change the name, but they can’t change the history. We have to continue fighting for our people,” said Mr Momberg.

According to JP Smith, the City’s Mayco member for safety and security, and social services, the City had informed the CTMCA that they could not support their carnival due to requirements of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act (POCA), the City’s Credit Control and Debt Collection Policy, and the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA).

It is believed that the CTMCA owes a total of R442 692 to the City, which includes R142 629 in service costs and R300 000 in legal fees which they were required to pay in accordance with the cost order awarded against the CTMCA in the Western Cape High Court.

Mr Momberg remains adamant that they do not owe the City a cent and confirmed that the member, the City was referring to when it spoke of POCA, had been removed from the executive structure a while ago.

“We have all the documents that we are taking to the courts. They (the City) accidentally sent us a letter stating that we owe them money for using the Cape Town Stadium, but we never used that stadium for our competitions. So they need to get their facts in order, but they need to know that we will not give up, because we are fighting to bring the show to our people,” he said.

In August, the City approved more than R6 million in funding for minstrel events for this year’s festive season, with requests for funding received through the City’s event support application system and considered by the special events committee.

This is the first year that the City finalised the allocation of funding months ahead of the minstrel and choir events.

Mr Smith remained confident that the City had done no wrong and said of last Thursday’s court ruling: “We are pleased with the judgment and feel vindicated. From the very beginning, we did say that the allegations are baseless.”

He further added that the City had made more money available for the minstrel carnival events than ever before and was working with the event organisers to make sure that this was the best minstrels event yet.

“As we have stated many times, the event is not about a particular organisation. It is a long-standing tradition in the lives of communities that come out in large numbers to support their loved ones who participate. We do hope that the CTMCA will not deprive their families of this opportunity that is a highlight of the year,” Mr Smith said.

He added: “Due to criminal convictions in terms of POCA, held by board members of the CTMCA, the City cannot rent facilities, provide non-essential services, or issue any permits to them.”

When asked if the City would prepared to continue the battle in court, Mr Smith replied: “Yes. However, that being said, I think it’s time for the CTMCA to stop politicising the matter and wasting the time of the courts who should be attending to more pressing matters.”

A number of teams were approached for their comment on the matter between the City and CTMCA, but none were willing to comment.

MrMomberg,however, remained confident and said CTMCA was in constant talks with the captains of the various troupes.

“Our message to the troupes is to continue doing what they have been doing, which is to practise for the upcoming competition. This is exactly what the City wants, which is to divide us, but we will fight this matter with everything we have,” Mr Momberg said.