Every year, the vibrant Phalaborwa in the Limpopo Province of South Africa comes alive as the Annual Marula Festival brings festivities alive. This fascinating musical event is a celebration of the marula fruit, which holds great cultural significance and has deep-rooted ties to African tradition. But this year’s event is riddled with controversy as MT World (PTY) LTD was alleged to have been awarded the Marula Festival Tender for the year 2024.

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The Tender Bulletin released on 19 April,distributed shows Chulumanco Lilitha owned by Songo Jacob Masinga as the bidder, that has been awarded amount of over R25 million (R25 401 686.09) for organising the event for 2024 until 2027. However, the Economic Development, Environment, and Tourism had sent a confirmation letter to MT World for R27 million (R27 425 441. 20). The bid was published in the Limpopo Bulletin on 23 February 2024 and closed on 15 March 2024. 

A source has revealed that “dubious activity” has allegedly led to the first company, MT Worlds “losing the bid after being awarded and confirmed, the source said. “People need answers,” the source added. “How does a company that qualifies and has proven to have been awarded the tender fairly now suddenly find out through a bulletin that the tender has gone to someone else? The department needs to explain what happened here because this means that none of us are safe,” she added. “The company was tax compliant. Business registered, registered with central suppliers, in the service of state status and everything was in order.”

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In a media statement during the launch at Uhuru Café on 21 April, the MEC of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism said in a statement. “2024 sees the 18th edition of the Limpopo Marula Festival which will be hosted from 26 April to 04 May 2024 at various locations around the town of Phalaborwa, culminating in an open-air concert at the Impala Park Stadium. The festival has now become a strong brand with packages to be enjoyed by all age groups as a collective experience,” he said. “This year, LEDET will collaborate with the Department of Sport, Arts & Culture (DSAC) to host joint district build-up events that will showcase the talent of our local artists, which presents a wonderful opportunity for local artists and cultural groups to display their talent and partake in the festival activities.” 

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