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Shopsteward Volume 27 No. 3

COSATU Media Monitor COSATU Media Monitor COSATU Media Monitor

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Media Centre  |  Letters

Financial wastage and advertising overspending

15 October 2014

Dear Sir / Madam

Please receive correspondence from our offices in relation to our complaint on financial wastage and the advertising campaign by the City of Cape Town and the Provincial Government. We appeal to your offices to intervene in this rampant wastage which has the potential of plunging the City of Cape Town into serious protest on 28 July 2014.

The advertising contract that the City and Province has taken out through an advertising agency to the tune of R50 million is a massive waste of public funds. When an assessment is done of the frequency of their adverts, it is clear that the Government is overspending on advertising. A cursory glance of any of the newspapers where the adverts are run will reveal that the ads are overplayed at a huge waste of public funds that does not in any way enhance the message, but buys favour with the medium for other promotions that are not presented as paid advertising.

The same is done with radio stations like Heart FM, where over-advertising on the same message is rampant and then coverage is given to other areas that are not presented as paid airtime, and gives the impression that it is a legitimate public interest story. This over advertising also leads to a slant in the manner in which the stories are presented, which highlights the Provincial Government or the City of Cape Town as leads in respect of the story. There are numerous examples of this on radio, and we would be prepared to list a few examples if need be.

We think there is a real danger of this amounting to subliminal advertising, or promotion, which is compounded when the fact is that it is a paid-for advert is not specifically listed. Many of the areas of work of the government are referred to in a slanted manner which does not give a holistic report of developments so the population can get the whole picture.

The listing of the colours of the ads and the manner in which the ads are presented creates an impression of a direct association between the Government and the role of the State, which is a form of subliminal advertising. This should, at the very least, be investigated as it creates an impression of equal delivery between rich and poor areas, whereas the reality is very different. For poor people who have no idea of the extravagant level of services in wealthy areas this is patently false advertising.

The Advertising agency is consciously, and on instruction of the Provincial Government and the City of Cape Town, manipulating information and essentially placing misleading advertising.

The same is done with the Design City which has seen at least R50 Million also blown on an elaborate scheme that has become the poster campaign of the City of Cape Town, but has not delivered one house or basic service. The City has no inspiring vision for Cape Town and so buys a vision from an international NGO that just makes money out of it, and proceeds to put up posters all over the City, renaming existing projects as design capital projects.

The Design Capital spend has not translated into an actual improvement that was not on the cards and instead tries to create an impression that clever people outside communities will provide answers to their problems. The truth is that that is just public relations exercises, to justify the huge expense on white consultants and buying gimmicks. Looking at the upgrades in the Old Uitsig Township, design suggestions from communities were disregarded, so no improved ventilation exists to curb the highest TB rates in South Africa. No outside ablution facilities for backyarders who occupy each yard in the township; and no attempt to use the infrastructure upgrade to upgrade the social cohesion of the communities that are devastated by gangs and drug abuse.

There is a growing sentiment across the City that these elaborate hoaxes directed at the elections, have wasted money that could have provided desperately needed basic services. People of Cape Town have just been told that many law enforcement officers are going to be retrenched because of the money being spent on these gimmicks, as well as the employment of high-priced politicians like Tim Harris, which makes communities even more unsafe. Tim Harris was humiliated by Minister Patel on a national television debate and so could not go back to Parliament after his ignorance was exposed. The DA then created a job for him in the City of Cape Town with a multimillion rand salary and budget.

Communities who have been protesting for basic services, have now raised the demand that they are going to have a common day of action across the City that may see all roads closed. The communities are demanding that the City and the Province take the R100 million that has been spent on the advertising budget and the Design City Logo and spend it on real things that communities desperately need. This R100 Million can roll out basic services for backyarders in informal settlements across all areas immediately. This action will be taken should the City and the Premier not announce the end of this wastage of public money that does not help anyone, other than the public image of the Premier and the Mayor.

The Communities have said that they demand a response from the Mayor and the Premier by the end of Business on the 25 July 2014, failing which, protest against this waste of funds will take place across the City on Monday 28 July 2014. Communities have also called on National Government to intervene to stop the Mayor and the Premier from wasting money on gimmicks and spend the R100 million on the urgent needs in their areas.

We look forward to your urgent attention to this serious matter.

Yours Faithfully
Tony Ehrenreich
COSATU Western Cape Provincial Secretary

With questions please call Tony at 082 7733 194

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