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“Raising questions” R27m deal between Royal AM and Msunduzi

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“Raising questions” R27m deal between Royal AM and Msunduzi

The mayor of Msunduzi Local Municipality, Mzimkhulu Thebolla, has defended his administration’decision to sponsor Royal AM.

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Questions are still being raised following a multi-million rand sponsorship deal between wealthy businesswoman Shauwn “MaMkhize” Mkhize’s football club, Royal AM, and the Msunduzi Local Municipality in Pietermaritzburg.

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The controversial agreement, which was signed in July 2023, saw the capital city of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) offering the Premier Soccer League (PSL) side R27 million over three years in exchange for the club using Harry Gwala Stadium.

However, the deal has been scrutinised by the Democratic Alliance who applied to the Pietermaritzburg High Court late last year “declaring the impugned decisions unlawful” and requesting that they be reviewed and set aside”.

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MSUNDUZI MAYOR DEFENDS DECISION TO SPONSOR MAMKHIZE’S ROYAL AM

The sponsorship deal was also investigated by Carte Blanche in an episode that aired on Sunday, 25 February.

Speaking to the M-Net investigative journalism series, Msunduzi Mayor Mzimkhulu Thebolla stated that he believes the citizens support the decision to sponsor Royal AM.

“When council took that decision, we knew very well that there is no direct benefit. When I say direct benefit to the municipality, I mean in terms of rands and cents that will be paid into the city’s coffers.”

Asked if he believes there is some form of benefit for his city, Thebolla said: “I am convinced, and I believe the city and the people of the city are convinced.”

According to the mayor, it was important for the city to have a football team that participated in the elite league. He added that it did not matter who the personalities behind the club are or the lifestyles they lead, provided they comply with the laws of the country.

“Out of sponsoring that team [Royal AM] business in the city thrives.

“I’m actually very proud now to stand up and say everywhere ‘I’m the mayor of this city’ because of the achievements that we are making.

“For this financial year alone our annual budget is sitting at R8.6 billion, we only sponsor a soccer team by R9 million,” he told Carte Blanche.

A CITY IN CRISIS

However, Thebolla’s response appears to be a slap on the faces of the people of Msunduzi whose rubbish lies uncollected on the streets for weeks at a time.

Every day commuters and those who work in the once-bustling city are confronted with a repulsive stench of urine which hangs in the air. Sewage leaks and water pipeline bursts have become common while the supply of electricity has reached a crisis point.

When the city was put under administration in 2019, the municipality owed Eskom R209 million. Five years later, the debt has skyrocketed to a staggering R881 million, and a further R521 million to the uMngeni-uThukela Water.

 

ROYAL AM’S FINANCIAL TROUBLES

MaMkhize, who is also a reality TV star, is popular for her opulent and extravagant lifestyle. Together with her son, Andile Mpisane (who is the Royal AM chairman and player), the pair also flaunt their riches by handing out cash bonuses to the club’s players.

However, this stunt – and others – comes with consequences, including a R1.65 million punishment from the PSL. All this while Thwihli Thwahla (as the club is also known) is serving a FIFA transfer ban after unfairly dismissing striker Samir Nurkovic – whom it was ordered to pay R12 million.

Royal AM’s financial woes do not end there, however, as FARpost reported last year that the club was slapped with a tax bill to the tune of R37 million in October. The High Court of South Africa directed the sheriff of the court to attach and remove the movable property of the team.

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MAMKHIZE’S ‘DUBIOUS’ TENDER DEALINGS AND FRAUD ALLEGATIONS

MaMkhize’s lifestyle first came into question while she was still married to former policeman, Sbu Mpisane. The couple separated in 2018. However, they have not finalised their divirce.

In 2013, The Mail and Guardian reported that MaMkhize’s company Zikhulise Cleaning, Maintenance and Transport was awarded three section 36 contracts between July 2012 and March 2013 relating to an Umlazi housing project.

At the time, the Kwa MaMkhize reality TV star faced 53 charges of fraud, forgery and uttering. She was accused of submitting false documents to obtain Construction Industry Development Board gradings, which were used to obtain public works department tenders worth R140K million.

The Sunday Times also listed the government tenders MaMkhize was awarded between 2005 and 2012, which were reportedly worth more than R1.1 billion.

Some included a R176 million contract awarded by the municipality in KwaDukuza, north of Durban, to build 1980 houses; a R21 million tender, also awarded by the provincial department of public works, to build a clinic in Inanda, north of Durban; and a R26.9 million contract awarded by the KZN department of public works for the building of Molweni Primary School outside Durban

 

 

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