Patricia de Lille approves R4.5 million budget for Cape Town’s Festival of Lights

Patricia de Lille, the embattled outgoing mayor of the City of Cape Town, has approved the R4.5 million budget for the metro’s annual Festival of Lights.

Cape Town’s Festival of Lights is an annual occasion which celebrates the festive season in spectacular fashion. Inner city streets are turned into a carnival, as the ‘switching on’ ceremony brings with it musicians, markets and general Christmas cheer. The event is scheduled to take place on the first Sunday of December.

Festival of Lights, a Cape Town tradition

Yet, this year, the City’s age-old festive tradition has raised more than a few eyebrows – not because of its proficiency in welcoming the holiday spirit to Cape Town, but because of the hefty price tag that comes along with it.

Members of the public have raised concerns regarding the exorbitant amount of money being dedicated to the occasion, while the city battles its own problems revolving around poverty. The question being: is it ethically sound to spend R4.5 million on one night of partying, while those less fortunate struggle to survive under the very same flashing lights?

Speaking to Cape Talk radio host Xolani Gwala, de Lille’s spokesperson, Zara Nicholson, addressed concerns relating to the City’s big spend. According to Nicholson, the bulk of funding allocated to the Festival of Lights is to ensure the safety and security of those attending the event.

City says it has cut down on costs

Gwala also pointed out that although the Festival of Lights is a Cape Town tradition, the country is currently in an economic recession, which begs the question of affordability in times of need. Nicholson claimed that the costs involved in this year’s festival are lower than previous events.

According to the spokesperson, the city had already cut costs for the Festival of Lights by R1.5 million. However, Nicholson maintained the city’s commitment to the safety and security of festival goers, adding that no corners had been cut this year despite the drop in funding, saying:

“While we will cut down on other things that aren’t necessary, the safety infrastructure requirement of the event cannot be cut.”

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