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WCape pledges R2.37m to Cape Minstrels

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The Western Cape government has pledged R2.37 million to help financially support the Cape Minstrels, Malay and Christmas choirs, the provincial department of cultural affairs said on Monday.

“The [department]… considers the annual events of these groups to be fundamental to preserving the Western Cape’s culture and heritage and therefore is committed to providing continued support for them,” MEC Nomafrench Mbombo said in a statement.

The events involved include the Christmas Choir Bands March, usually held on December 24, the Malay Choir “Nagtroupe” March on December 31, and the Tweede Nuwejaar Minstrel March.

“[The department] has pledged an amount of R2,370,000 for the 2014/15 financial year,” said Mbombo.

In 2012, the City of Cape Town appointed retired Constitutional Court judge Kate O’Regan to mediate between the city and the minstrels, and she recommended that the group organise themselves.

Last year, the Cape Town Minstrel Carnival Association (CTMCA) initially refused to sign a memorandum of understanding about the minstrel carnival, demanding more money and greater control of the event and its resources.

The SA Christmas Bands Board also did not sign the agreement.

At the time, the city said it provided R3.5m in support services, such as traffic control and law enforcement, to ensure the carnival was properly controlled and managed.

The provincial government provided R2m for the transportation of all minstrel groups taking part in the carnival, Malay choirs, and Christmas bands.

“National government also allocates an unspecified amount to the event through these groups in order to pay for various costs,” the city said.

The organisations signed after it was agreed that minstrel associations would participate in the management of carnival events, and that the associations would become the overarching event organisers of the next Cape Annual Minstrel Carnival.

The department said the minstrels had formed a co-ordinating committee this year. Its primary function was to raise funds and manage the annual festivities.

Mbombo said her department was proud to support the group and felt it played an essential role in celebrating heritage. SAPA

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