Hundreds of excited spectators gathering for the Cape minstrel’s Tweede Nuwe Jaar parade were left bitterly disappointed on Sunday, after yet another postponement of the event. The annual festival has been marred by another disagreement between the Cape minstrel fraternity and the City of Cape Town, who is accused of not fulfilling promises to provide the logistical arrangements for the event. Minstrel associations on Sunday called off the road march, blaming the City for not organising buses for the minstrel groups.
Speaking to VOC News in the CBD, chairperson for the Cape District Minstrel Board, Shahiedah Thor, (CDMB) said supporters had been camping out since Thursday night and will now occupy the streets until the minstrel carnival kicks off this weekend.
“It saddens me that here is elderly people and young children who have been camping out since last week to see their family members perform at this year’s annual carnival. The event has already been postponed from 02nd to 05thJanuary due to Muslims celebrating Moulood. Now we have to wait until Saturday, 10th January for the event to kick off,” said Thor.
“This event plays a huge role in our lives and is part of our heritage. Thousands of people including foreigners visit the Mother City every year for this auspicious event. Why does the City have to disappoint our people like this?”
In a press statement, Mayor Patricia De Lille said in November there was agreement established between the City and the minstrel fraternity, that the minstrels “would organise their own event”. She said the minstrel associations were responsible for procuring all services and ensuring that these services are secured in time for the event.
But Thor said she blames the Cape Town Minstrel’s Carnival Association (CTMCA) and the African National Congress (ANC) for this year’s postponement.
“This was a planned move and I therefore blame the ANC for this mess up. As we all know the carnival will now coincide with the ANC’s 103rd birthday anniversary event and will be hosted at the same venue at the Green Point Stadium. They knew all along what will be happening, with the intentions of drawing the crowd to their event,” Thor alleged.
“People have been planning and spending lots of money for this event. We have competitions on the 10th January. What must we do know? We have families who have sacrificed four to five nights on these streets to see these troops parading in town. Who is the government to disappoint us? This is very emotional for our people,” she continued.
“I think the people of the Cape must stand up against the ANC as well as Richard Stemmet and Kevin Momberg (CTMCA), as they are not the custodian of the minstrels alone. We are the minstrels and the minstrels are nothing without the community of Cape Town,” she said.
“They knew about this postponement but failed to stand by our people. I’ve been in contact with Momberg for the past few days regarding transport for the troops, and a meeting was held at the Provincial Parliament as well. Momberg said that they were on their way to negotiate with Golden Arrow for extra buses and he promised to return my calls…”
After numerous attempts to get hold of Momberg for confirmation, Thor said he finally returned her call late Sunday afternoon.
“He returned my call only to disappoint us once again. He was extremely rude and insulted me non stop. He said that he wants nothing to do with me and that it is ‘his’ road march. That was the last time we spoke,” said a disappointed Thor.
“This annual event is something big for our people and it’s very emotional for many of us. The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) are the only ones who has helped us this far. The EFF has proven to us that they are here for the Western Cape. ”
The EFF’s Nazier Paulsen said they will be supporting the Cape District Minstrel Board on Saturday.
“We are urging all those who would want to see the minstrel free from any political interference and to not allow it to be used as any political football, to join us on Saturday,” he said.
“We as the EFF believe that it’s very much to assist the ANC to ploy crowd to their event on Saturday because the march would go towards the Green Point Stadium…”
Paulsen called for an independent body “free from any political interference” to manage the minstrel carnival.
“We think it’s high time that such a body was established with respectable people steering the minstrels into the future,” he said.
In the meantime, various minstrel supporters will camp out for the rest of the week due to transport issues.
“We are unable to go home as we budget to travel to town with our entire family. We have no choice but to sleep here for the entire week,” said a disappointed Wilhelmina Rose (68).
“Is it right that we should sit here with pain every time the government disappoints us? We look forward to this event every year, once a year, so why do they do this to us?”
Marion Juilies from the Sea Ridge Youth Entertainers said her relatives drove all the way from Kimberly to see the event.
“They especially took off from work to come to Cape Town, and now they have to go back due to the postponement. We will be camping in these streets as well and hope the government sees how disappointed we are.”
The Cape District Minstrel Board warned that they will march to the ANC offices on Tuesday morning to show their disappointment.
On air on VOC on Monday morning, Momberg apologised to the public for the postponement, but said the City should be held responsible. Moving the Tweede Nuwe Jaar festival to Saturday 10th January would not be possible, he said, adding that they would re-enter into negotiations to secure another date for the carnival.
Association defends cancellation
The Cape Town Minstrel Carnival Association maintains its stand point in the recent cancellation of the annual Minstrel Parade, stating that the City has set them up for failure. This was the first year the association would plan the entire Minstrel event in the mother city on their own, after the establishment of a special organising committee. Cape Minstrel Carnival Association CEO, Kevin Momberg told VOC News that this was a direct attempt to jeopardise the event on the City’s part.
“We have already successfully hosted three events in the mother city this festive season, leading up to the most anticipated Parade. We had the Malay Choir march the exact same route as the Minstrel parade and we hosted the Christmas choirs on the 24th December 2014. Why would we fail with planning our main parade,” Momberg said.
Momberg came out blazing after the City issued its statement, blaming the cancellation of the parade on the failure to properly plan by the Minstrel Associations. However, Momberg responded by calling out the Mayor of Cape Town, Patricia De Lille, after not sticking to her promises in accommodating the logistical additions that came along with the second postponement to the 5th January 2015.
In the statement, the Mayor clearly states that the R2.35 million allocated for the event was all the City had agreed upon in November last year. This after the Minstrel association’s and allied board’s requested the City play a supportive role rather than a coordinating role. However, Momberg says regardless of this recent disappointment, the Association and allies vow to continue their plight in take the Minstrel Parade and events affiliated into their own hands.
“Initially, when the Mayor requested we postponed the event to the 5th January, we agreed to it under the notion that we would receive extra assistance to accommodate the logistical changes needed. Since the City did not deliver on this, we have unfortunately had to postpone the event once again,” Momberg explained.
While the allocated funds were not the issue, the problem came from the logistical difficulties in now having to rearrange an entire Parade with just a few days notice. VOC (Ra’eesah Isaacs/ Aishah Cassiem)